19 Aug 2022

Tipperary woman who made landlords’ lives 'utter misery' has sentence for criminal damage cut on appeal

Tipperary woman who made landlords’ lives 'utter misery' has sentence for criminal damage cut on appeal

A woman who made her landlords’ lives an “utter misery” has had her five-year sentence for forgery and criminal damage cut to two years by the Court of Appeal.

Rosemary Jones (49), with an address at Ballygraigue, Nenagh, County Tipperary, pleaded guilty to forgery and criminal damage to the property of her landlords, the Egans, in Nenagh, after  difficulties developed in the “landlord - tenant relationship” in 2014.

She was given a two-year sentence for forgery and a consecutive three-year sentence for criminal damage by Judge Thomas Teehan at Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court on March 15, 2018.

The sentencing judge had indicated a willingness to suspend the final year of Jones’ sentence if she was prepared to enter into a bond on certain terms, but Jones was “not so prepared”, the Court of Appeal heard.

She successfully appealed the severity of her sentence on Monday and was accordingly resentenced to two years imprisonment with the final six months suspended.

Giving judgment, president of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said Jones had rented a three bedroom house in Nenagh from the injured party in 2010.

In 2014, he said difficulties developed in the landlord - tenant relationship. Jones had not paid any rent “whatever for a very prolonged period”.

She had been in receipt of Rent Supplement and the stage was reached where the landlord declined to sign forms with a view to securing vacant possession, the judge said.

He said the forgery related to a signature on a Rent Supplement Review Form, although it didn’t appear, she achieved any financial benefit from this.  

He said criminal damage was caused to kitchen furniture, a door, household property, a shower, walls and skirting boards.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Jones’ initial “reluctance” to plead guilty to criminal damage was on the basis that she wasn’t prepared to accept she deliberately set out to damage property.

He said the landlords estimated the cost of repairing the damage to be somewhere in the region of €10,000. They had since acquired possession of the property and had sold it on at a loss. There was no doubt, he said, that the price achieved reflected the condition the premises was in.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge clearly took a “very serious view” of the case.

The sentencing judge may well have been influenced by the victim impact report prepared by Jones’ former landlords. It’s clear they were “tormented” by Jones and their lives had been made an “utter misery”, the judge said.

Overall, he said the aggregate sentence of five years imprisonment was excessive and required intervention by the Court of Appeal.

Furthermore, he said concurrent sentences, rather than consecutive sentences, given the close link between the separate offences, would not have been inappropriate.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, resentenced Jones to two years imprisonment with the final six months suspended. She was given a concurrent 12 month sentence for forgery.

Jones was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period and for two years post release. She undertook to be so bound.

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