Woman jailed for causing criminal damage to packet of Pringles

Judge says woman’s actions in Tesco she was barred from was ‘smart alec behaviour’

Kathleen McDonagh (25), pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the €1.50 packet of crisps at Tesco, Mahon Point Shopping Centre in Cork. Photograph: iStock

A woman has been jailed for two months for causing criminal damage to a packet of crisps.

Kathleen McDonagh (25) popped open a packet of Pringles after she was ordered out of a Tesco store from which she was barred .

The woman from Inchera Close, Mahon, Cork, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the €1.50 packet of crisps at Tesco, Mahon Point Shopping Centre in Cork on December 27th 2016 when she appeared at Cork District Court on Tuesday.

Insp Ronan Kennelly outlined the background of the case to Judge Brian O'Shea, informing him that McDonagh was barred from Tesco at the time over previous interactions but she took a packet of Pringles from the shelf and joined the queue at the self-scan check-out.


Tesco security staff monitoring CCTV spotted McDonagh in the queue and knowing that she was barred from the shop went over to her. Before they could reach her and take the Pringles from her, she popped open the packet, the court heard.

“As the security officers approached her she opened the Pringles and removed the foil top and she said, ‘I opened it so you have to leave me pay for it’ ... it was not fit for resale with a loss of €1.50. She said she wanted to buy the Pringles but she had no permission to be in the store,” he said.

Insp Kennelly told the court McDonagh had a total of 31 previous convictions including 14 for theft and two for criminal damage. She also had some recent convictions for handling stolen property for which she had received some suspended sentences.

Defence solicitor, Shane Collins Daly said his client had indicated to gardai on October 30th last she was pleading guilty to the charge. He asked Judge O'Shea to be as lenient as possible given his client was recently married, five months pregnant and had suffered from anxiety issues in the past.

McDonagh is currently doing a hair dressing course and had been working for the past five months at a local hairdressing salon, the court heard. It had since closed for refurbishment but she was now doing hairdressing work at her mother’s house.

Judge O Shea said taken out of context the offence was low down on the scale of seriousness. But he said the fact that McDonagh had previous convictions for similar offences and for theft, it moved it up the scale of seriousness.

Judge O’Shea said he was also concerned when it emerged that McDonagh had popped open the Pringles packet after the security staff had approached her and indicated to her that she should leave the shop. “It’s difficult to see that as anything but smart alec behaviour,” he said.

He said such behaviour was an aggravating factor in the case and it didn’t appear that suspended sentences worked for McDonagh. He said it seemed to him that the appropriate sentence was four months in jail but he suspended the final two months and fixed recognisances in the event of an appeal.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times