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Bags secured Woman (53) wanted in North for theft of six Mulberry handbags denied bail

Counts one and two on the warrant state that Gaffney stole Mulberry handbags valued at £2,785 on July 7 and 8 2016, which belonged to Stephen Mewha, an employee of House of Fraser in Belfast.

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Women's black leather handbag isolated on white background

Women's black leather handbag isolated on white background

Women's black leather handbag isolated on white background

A 53-year-old woman who is wanted in Northern Ireland for the alleged theft of six designer handbags has been refused permission to seek bail.

Catherine Gaffney, with an address at Carraroe Avenue, Grange, Dublin 13, is in custody in the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy Prison as a result of convictions at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and will be surrendered to the UK authorities on completion of her sentence.

The Court of Appeal heard today that the Dochas Centre has decided Gaffney qualifies for temporary release as part of a programme to help prisoners reintegrate into the community.

However, she was unable to take up temporary release due to the European Arrest Warrant and therefore applied to the High Court for bail.

The High Court refused on the grounds that if Ms Gaffney is released from prison she should be surrendered to the UK authorities. Ms Gaffney appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal.

Ronan Munro SC for Ms Gaffney argued today that the High Court still has jurisdiction to grant bail even when a person is being held in custody pending surrender under a European Arrest Warrant.

Mr Justice John Edwards delivered the judgment of the three-judge court saying that section 27 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 is "explicit and unambiguous" in stating that a person in Ms Gaffney's situation, "shall not be remanded on bail or otherwise released from custody."

Mr Justice Edwards, sitting with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, dismissed the appeal.

Gaffney is wanted in Northern Ireland in respect of three alleged theft offences, one attempted theft offence and one offence of obstructing a Constable in the execution of his duty.

Counts one and two on the warrant state that Gaffney stole Mulberry handbags valued at £2,785 on July 7 and 8 2016, which belonged to Stephen Mewha, an employee of House of Fraser in Belfast.

The items were not recovered.

The third offence alleges that Gaffney stole a further three Mulberry handbags at the same store and valued at £3,000 on November 19, 2016.

The warrant states that the respondent placed a blue handbag and two red handbags into her blue reusable shopping bag before she left the shop.

The fourth offence on the warrant claims that Gaffney attempted to steal a seventh Mulberry handbag as well as a purse valued at £1,500 at the same store on December 10, 2016.

The warrant states that staff detained Gaffney that day for theft believing her to be the same female responsible for previous thefts.

A member of store security followed her after she placed the handbag and purse into her carrier bag and walked off toward the exit without offering payment.

However, she lifted the handbag and purse out of the carrier bag and "dumped" them on a shelf when she realised that she was being followed. The respondent was detained by security staff and the police were called.

The fifth alleged offence relates to Gaffney obstructing a Constable in the execution of his duty on December 10, 2016.

By the time a decision was made to prosecute the respondent in January 2017, she had left the jurisdiction.

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