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26 Jan 2022

Judge strikes out Covid breach for mother & son found in Ballymahon during Level 5 restrictions

Judge strikes out Covid breach for mother & son found in Ballymahon during Level 5 restrictions

A District Court judge has struck out the case of a mother and son who breached Covid regulations in March of last year.

Margaret and Pierre Stokes, both of Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, were stopped in Ballymahon by Garda Aidan Lenehan at just after 2pm on March 3, 2021, when level five restrictions were still in place.

“They said they were going shopping,” said Gda Lenehan, “They were 19km from home and there was a requirement that only one person from each household should do the shopping.”

“Yes, but that wasn’t a regulation,” said Judge Bernadette Owens, “the applicable regulation is they were outside of their five kilometres.”

Solicitor for the defence, Bríd Mimnagh, explained that her clients were having difficulty with another family in Longford town and that she was avoiding shopping in Longford town as a result.

Gda Lenehan, however, explained that the nearest supermarket to the family is SuperValu in Edgeworthstown.

“They were in Ballymahon when there was a supermarket close to home,” he said.

“Margaret Stokes has a family of ten. She collects her social welfare and she goes to Aldi because she can’t afford to bulk buy in SuperValu,” said Ms Mimnagh in response.

“Pierre, is also before the court because he’s the only one who can drive. Mrs Stokes is disqualified.

“After being stopped by you, Gda Lenehan, she contacted Detective Garda McGovern to say she goes to Athlone to avoid that family. Mrs Stokes will say she told you she was going to Athlone.”

Gda Lenehan insisted “they didn’t mention Athlone to me”.

When asked to give evidence, Mrs Stokes explained that there are ten people in her family, including her and her husband.

“I collect my social welfare and every Wednesday I go to do my shopping in Aldi. There’s no Aldi in Ballymahon. I can’t afford to shop in SuperValu. It’s too expensive on social welfare,” she said.

Sgt Enda Daly, for the state, put it to Mrs Stokes that Gda Lenehan had said there was “no reference” to Athlone: “In his direct evidence, he said you were going to SuperValu in Ballymahon.”

“No,” said Mrs Stokes, “why would I go to SuperValu in Ballymahon if I can’t afford to go to SuperValu in Edgeworthstown? To me it was an essential journey. I had to go to do my shopping.”

Having heard enough, Judge Owens decided to strike out the case for both Margaret and Pierre Stokes.

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