€5 cheque for theft compensation “an insult” says retailer

Money down the drain: Time spent by staff, gardai and DPP in securing a result is not being reflected in the punishment awarded

Retailer speaks out about broken legal system and calls for appropriate compensation levels to be awarded



22 October 2019 | 0

A retailer has expressed his dismay at receiving a cheque for a mere €5 in compensation for a theft that occurred at his store in Cork city last month.

William O’Brien, who owns a store in Cork’s MacCurtain Street, received the cheque from An Garda Siochana in relation to the “theft of donuts” from his store on 4 September 2019.

The accompanying letter from gardai explained that the amount of €5 was “in respect of compensation awarded at Cork District Court on 2 October 2019”.

Speaking to ShelfLife, William O’Brien pointed out that this does not take into account the amount of time spent in helping to secure a conviction by his staff, gardai nor the Director of Public Prosecutions, nor does it send an appropriate message to those who would engage in shoplifting.

O’Brien explained that the individual involved had stolen donuts on two separate occasions, each time to the value of €5.20.

On the morning of the incident, the store’s staff were delayed in dealing with an important delivery due to the theft.

“We were delayed here about half an hour waiting for gardai. It was the morning of a delivery so we had to have two people around him so they were therefore off the floor, and our delivery was held up being packed,” he told ShelfLife, explaining that the time taken up by both staff and gardai should be reflected in the compensation awarded.

On a previous occasion, O’Brien was called to court a total of eight times in relation to the trial of another individual who had 94 previous convictions.

In that instance, the individual eventually pleaded guilty, but it took “the bones of eight or nine months” to secure this result.

“The system is not working, ” O’Brien told ShelfLife. “It’s not a justice system, it’s a legal system. He should have to pay for the police time, plus 30%, pay for my staff’s time plus 100% and pay for the goods concerned. Depending on the number of offences that he has carried out in the past, maybe he needs to be tagged.”

CEO of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) Vincent Jennings has also spoken out about the lack of a deterrent expressed by such paltry compensation.

“Even if your bank is still accepting third party cheques, there’s a big cost involved,” he told ShelfLife. “The whole process of it going through the prosecution process to result in the collection of a compensation for a measly 5 is extraordinary in this day and age. What lesson is being learnt by the criminal?”

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