A squatter who helped ransack a "pristine" and newly refurbished Dublin apartment has been jailed for six months.
Anne Marie Prince (35), of Thomas Bawn Court, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to a burglary on February 21st, 2021.
The owner, Susan Boylan, told the court she spent months painting and redecorating the apartment at Viking Court, Meath Place, Dublin 8, which she owned for 25 years.
At the time, she was considering whether to sell or rent it out and checked the property regularly. It was "pristine" weeks before the burglary.
After gardaí contacted her, she secured the apartment but found that the alarm had been pulled out.
She described it as "unpleasant" – a red light was placed at the bottom of stairs on a wheelie bin, smears on the wall, drug paraphernalia including syringes, and “lingerie thrown around the place”.
The bin had been pulled in from the back garden.
The owner said the damage cost about €2,000 and was paid by insurance, resulting in a premium spike.
She told the court it was demeaning.
In a mitigation plea, defence counsel Eimear Delargy told the sentencing hearing that Prince was not the only person on the premises. The barrister said it was used as a squat.
The woman accepted responsibility for the alarm and a damaged window.
The court heard the mother of one, with 38 prior convictions, had a difficult childhood. She later worked in a department store and did a pre-nursing course.
Drug addiction started later in life, and she had a relapse at the time of the offence.
Counsel said Prince had become a born-again Christian, was getting counselling and dealing with her drug issue.
The accused apologised in court and told the injured party she was trying to change her life for the better and give back to the community. "I am very grateful for that," the victim replied.
Judge Hughes noted that the apartment owner had left the property in a pristine condition "through the sweat of her own brow," and she has been left at a loss.
He imposed a nine-month sentence but suspended three months with conditions. Prince must keep the peace for two years, pay €500 compensation by next December, complete an education course with the view of finding a job, as well as drug rehabilitation.
He also warned her to stay away from the victim and the apartment.