A woman appealing a prison sentence for assaulting a female shop manager by punching her in the face during a shoplifting incident showed “complete contempt” for Portlaoise Circuit Court by failing to turn up for her latest court appearance and failing to pay full compensation as directed.
Aisling Knee, with an address at 25 Ardrew Court, Athy, was given an eight month sentence in Portlaoise District Court, for assault causing harm, at Portlaoise Retail Park, Timahoe Road, Portlaoise, on February 23, 2013.
She subsequently appealed this sentence in Portlaoise Circuit Court in February of this year, where Judge Keenan Johnson said he would consider suspending the sentence if Knee paid a total of €10,000 compensation to the injured party. She paid an initial €1,000 at that court, and the case was adjourned to July for Knee to pay a further €4,000 of the total €10,000 compensation.
However, when the case returned to the circuit court in July, defence, Mr Rory Hannify said his client was not capable of raising the money as she is on social welfare.
Explaining that the original €1,000 his client had paid had been money from a wedding gift, Mr Hannify said Knee was looking for more time to pay.
However, Judge Johnson gave her just over a week to pay compensation and put the matter back to Friday, July 15.
When the case returned on that date, Mr Hannify said his client had €4,000 in court, which she had borrowed. He said that his client would not be able to get the same amount, or anything like it, by the next sitting of the circuit court.
Judge Johnson adjourned the case to November 29, for mention.
When the case came back to court last week, defence, Ms Louise Troy said her client did not have any money to offer and was not present in the court.
Ms Troy said she had warned the appellant to have some money for that day, and the appellant said she did have €1,000 but unfortunately then her niece passed away and the money was needed for that.
Judge Johnson asked how had the death of the appellant's niece had an effect on the payment of compensation.
Ms Troy said she could not offer an explanation.
Judge Johnson said the appellant had not turned up in court and had not paid the money as directed.
“She’s shown complete contempt for the court,” he said, affirming the district court order of eight months in prison.
Details of the offence are that Knee was part of a group of females who entered a store on February 23, 2013, and stole a number of items. The manager of the store followed the group when they left, and Knee, who was 17 at the time, struck her in the face with a closed fist, breaking the manager’s glasses.
The injured party was left with a broken nose, a black eye, swelling to one side of her face, and two teeth out of place.
When the appeal first came before the circuit court, Knee took the witness box to give evidence that she had travelled from Athy to Portlaoise on the day with her sister, friend and aunt.
State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne asked her: “The driver brought you there and some of you went shoplifting?”
The appellant replied in the affirmative, saying she had gone “for the spin”.
“I came for a drive, just a drive,” she said.
The court heard that she had previously been given the probation act for criminal damage. This related to a shoplifting offence involving the removal of security tags from dresses.