Mother of five gets Probation Act on 11 theft charges
Latvian Guna Levcenkova has no conviction recorded after members of public came to her aid
Three men , who were all members of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at the time of the alleged abuse , were charged yesterday following a two-year investigation by gardaí i into allegations of abuse at Colá a iste Chr i oí Naofa in Carrignavar, in Co Cork, when it operated as a boarding school. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters
A mother who claimed she was forced to steal food and clothes for her five children has left court without a conviction.
Guna Levcenkova (30), who is originally from Latvia but has an address in Dundalk, was charged with 11 counts of theft dating from 2010, 2011 and 2012,thanked members of the public for their support during the case, which saw the HSE and the Department of Social Welfare appearing before the District Court.
At Dundalk District Court today, Judge William Hamill heard Ms Levcenkova had completed 40 hours’ voluntary work and as a result has been offered a job on a Community Employment Scheme.
He applied the Probation Act, which means he did not proceed to record a conviction for any of the theft charges against the defendant. Previous courts had heard she was stealing to feed her children. Ms Levcenkova has addresses at Ath Leathan, Racecourse Road, Dundalk and Beechmount Drive, Cox’s Demesne also in Dundalk.
The case was first before Judge Hamill in 2011 and her solicitor Sean T O’Reilly told the court that at that time she was not in receipt of any welfare benefit or financial support from the HSE.
Judge Hamill then invited representatives from the Department of Social Protection and the HSE to court to explain why the accused had been refused assistance.
As a result, her court case made national and local news headlines and she received some emergency payments from the HSE.
Speaking after the case concluded, Mr O’Reilly said his client had arrived in Ireland in 2009 and got social welfare payments in July 2012. It emerged that strangers had driven from Belfast to bring her food and school books after reading about her plight.
He said it was 18 months after she had first appeared before the District Court that she received welfare payments. She did receive three emergency payments from the HSE in the intervening period, he added.
Ms Levcenkova (30) had left ”appalling circumstances” in Latvia to come to Ireland and had wanted a better life for her five daughters, aged 4, 5, 8, 9 and 11, he said.
“She had great help from the people of Dundalk and from people who heard about her. People she didn’t know drove from Belfast with food and school books and toys for the children,” he said.
“She is now in a position to contribute to society and is a testament to Judge Hamill, who did not allow her and her family to drop into delinquency. Probation officer Sheena Norton also provided her assistance,” Mr O’Reilly added.
Speaking with Mr O’Reilly’s assistance, Ms Levcenkova said: “I want to thank the judge for his help and the people of Dundalk and other people who helped me.”
Mr O’Reilly added: “The people of Ireland were better to Guna than the system.”