Store owner stole dress money from brides-to-be
A former bridal store owner has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence after admitting stealing dress payments from brides-to-be.
At her sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court, gardai accepted that Shirley Flanagan, the proprietor of Robelle Bridal, Annacotty, "did not intend to con" the women.
Her barrister said she found herself in financial difficulties and in the throes of depression following the death of her young son in April 2011.
Flanagan (36), of Rathuard, Donoughmore, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft totalling €3,600 on dates between January and May 2015.
Gda Sean O'Regan told the court that gardai received a formal complaint from one of the shop's customers on May 7, 2015.
A number of women had paid Flanagan cash for designer dresses.
In some cases the women were given other dresses, while in other cases they did not receive any dress at all.
The mother of one customer paid Flanagan €1,800 for a David Fielden dress, but never received it.
In other cases, women gave Flanagan deposits for dresses designed by Kenneth Winston and Justin Alexander, but did not receive them.
Gardai were alerted to the thefts after the matter was highlighted on social media sites.
They found no orders had been placed with suppliers, despite Flanagan receiving money.
The court heard Flanagan had been severely traumatised by the death of her child.
Gda O'Regan said the defendant had not "set out to con people" and was trying "to make a go" of the boutique business.
Cathal McGreal, defending Flanagan, said she had set up the business as a "distraction" from her grief.
Gda O'Regan told Mr McGreal: "Things ran away with her, she took risks."
Flanagan co-operated with gardai and none of the weddings were cancelled as a result of her actions.
In 2013, Flanagan pleaded guilty at Limerick District Court to five counts of deception and two counts of knowingly using a false insurance document.
She admitted, dishonestly and by deception, inducing five men who worked in her father's taxi firm to give her a total of €4,400 on the pretence they would be issued with a valid motor insurance policy.
Flanagan, who was a trainee teacher at the time, said she committed the fraud to pay her mortgage arrears.
The court heard she later lost her home due to her not being able to meet repayments.