Suspended sentence | 

New mum who stole bag and bank card from woman giving birth in Dublin hospital avoids jail

Both the accused and her victim were patients at Dublin's Rotunda Hospital at the time.

Stacey Fitzgerald

Andrew PhelanSunday World

A new mum has been spared jail for stealing an overnight bag containing baby clothes and a bank card from another mother-to-be who was giving birth at a maternity hospital.

Stacey Fitzgerald (31) snatched the bag when the woman was taken for an operation to deliver her child, then ran up bills on the victim's card at nearby shops in what a court heard was a "despicable" crime.

Both the accused and her victim were patients at Dublin's Rotunda Hospital at the time.

Judge Bryan Smyth said Fitzgerald "may well" deserve jail but he instead gave her a six-month suspended sentence after reading favourable probation and restorative justice reports.

The accused, with an address at a B&B on Gardiner Street, Dublin pleaded guilty to stealing the bag on September 10 last year.

Stacey Fitzgerald (31)

She also admitted theft and attempted theft at a number of north inner city shops on the same date.

Fitzgerald's plea was heard earlier this year and when the case came back before Dublin District Court, the judge said the reports seemed "very positive."

Defence solicitor Paddy McGarry said the accused understood it was a very serious offence; she had "engaged positively" with the probation service, made a charity donation and did everything the court asked.

The accused had spoken of being a mother herself, she was "genuinely sorry" and "understands the stress and worry she caused," Mr McGarry said.

Fitzgerald had developed drug issues at the age of 25, mainly crack cocaine, and while living in Tallaght she witnessed an attack near her home and ended up on the street. She was now in a house with her partner and baby.

"I think it's to Ms Fitzgerald's credit the way she has dealt with these matters," Judge Smyth said. She "may well be deserving of a custodial sentence," he said, but he suspended the sentence for a year.

Previously, the court heard Fitzgerald was an in-patient in the Rotunda and the victim was staying in the same ward prior to being taken for an operation to have her baby delivered.

Woman stole new mum’s baby clothes and bank card while victim was giving birth

The victim left her overnight bag in the ward, containing personal items including her clothing, clothes for the new baby and a phone charger.

After the birth, the victim began receiving text messages from her bank about possible fraudulent transactions on her account. Her partner returned to the ward and discovered the bag was missing.

CCTV footage showed Fitzgerald and another person removing the bag from the ward, the court heard. There was further CCTV evidence from Spar on Gardiner Street which showed the accused using the victim's bank card in a fraudulent transaction.

The court heard there were several thefts and attempted thefts as Fitzgerald “tapped” at shops with the card. The successful transactions totalled €165. The total value of the bag and contents was €350.

A search was carried out at the accused’s address where a number of the stolen items were found.

A co-accused Laurence Doran (50), with an address at the same B&B, pleaded not guilty to stealing the woman’s bag. He is not charged with any other offences and his case is due for hearing next month.

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