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Guilty plea Young woman caught carrying claw hammer for 'her personal protection' avoids jail

Mary Cawley (23) was sleeping rough in Dublin city centre at the time and had been attacked by other homeless people

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Mary Cawley pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon

Mary Cawley pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon

Mary Cawley pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon

A young woman caught sitting on a street corner with a claw hammer in her lap had it for her own "personal protection", a court has heard.

Mary Cawley (23) was sleeping rough in Dublin city centre at the time and had been attacked by other homeless people, the court was told.

Judge Bryan Smyth gave her an eight-month suspended sentence, saying while he understood her reasons, it was "unacceptable" to "go around carrying things like hammers".

Cawley, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon in the incident on June 5 last year.

Dublin District Court heard gardaí were on patrol on Liffey Street when they saw the accused sitting on a street corner, in possession of a hammer.

She was highly intoxicated, the hammer was "sitting on her lap" and she was arrested.

Separately, gardaí found her drinking alcohol openly in public on O'Connell Street last September 14 and when told to stop and move on, she shouted abuse, repeatedly saying "f**king leave me alone, you f**king pr**k".

The accused, who was a very intelligent but "extremely vulnerable young lady", had been sleeping in a tent on Henry Street, her solicitor Ruth Walsh said.

She said Cawley had previously been attacked and had the hammer for her personal protection. Cawley accepted it was "completely inappropriate" to have the weapon.

The accused had made efforts to address her drinking and had now got her own place to live for the first time.

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