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Court

New mother avoids jail for shoplifting

A NEW mother who was convicted of several thefts from Enniskillen shops last summer has avoided being sent to jail as she has a four-week-old son.
Caroline McDonagh (28) of Derrin Park, Enniskillen, appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday for sentencing on five counts of theft in relation to four separate incidents last year. Sentencing had previously been adjourned as she was pregnant. 
The first incident was on Jun 15th, 2018 and involved the theft of a dress worth £165 from the Harry and George clothes shop in Enniskillen. McDonagh was recognised by a staff member on a local bus days later. Police were called, the bus was stopped, and McDonagh was arrested. The dress was never recovered. 
The second incident was on July 27th, 2018 and involved the theft of £320 from DV8 in Erneside Shopping Centre. Two other women were also involved. 
The third incident was in Cookstown on August 1st, 2018. McDonagh was seen on CCTV holding the door open for a man she was with and who was carrying a rug they hadn’t paid for, worth £95, out of Homebase. 
Finally, on October 26th last, police were called to a theft at Sports Direct in Enniskillen. McDonagh had been filmed on CCTV using the shop’s side door, taking items out bit by bit, and putting them in a bag outside the door. She was seen leaving the shop and arrested. 
 McDonagh was then identified as having carried out a similar theft from Sports Direct some days previous on October 22nd. Police searched McDonagh’s home and some of the items and some security tags were found. 
Defence barrister Stefan Rafferty said in normal circumstances such offending would likely automatically attract a custodial sentence, but said McDonagh had a four-week-old son who depended on her. He added McDonagh, who was subject of a suspended sentence relating to thefts several years ago, was working with social services and had showed a change in attitude and behaviour.
“To deprive this woman of her liberty and remove her from her baby son does not benefit anyone,” said Mr Rafferty. 
District Judge Michael Ranaghan said he felt sending McDonagh to prison would only harm her son. He sentenced her to a total of 12 months in prison, suspended for three years. 
 
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