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Man fraudulently collected money for homeless

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A MAN has been handed a suspended sentence for fraudulently collecting money on the streets of Westport, whilst advertising that he was ‘supporting the homeless’.
Lawrence Ward, with an address at 14 Tirboy, Tuam, Galway, appeared before last Thursday’s sitting of Westport District Court, sitting in Castlebar, where he pleaded guilty to the charge.
Inspector Denis Harrington told the court that on June 18, 2018 at 12.30pm, Garda John Boyle observed the defendant collecting money outside the Post Office, on the North Mall in Westport. The defendant had a table with a sign that said ‘Support the Homeless’ and included pictures.
The court heard that when Garda Boyle approached Mr Ward, he noticed a Big Issue badge around his neck and Mr Ward told him that he was selling the Big Issue magazine. However, Garda Boyle said that he observed people leaving money on the table and getting nothing in exchange.
Mr Ward did admit that he was collecting the money for himself.
There was a total of €47.65 on the table.
Defending solicitor Nicola Daly said that it was raining on the day in question and that her client was wearing a zipped up jacket, where he kept the Big Issue inside, and that he showed that to Garda Boyle.
She said her client – who has no previous convictions – accepted he shouldn’t have had the table or the poster but that the money on it came from the Big Issue.
She said her client was a father of three from the Tuam area who was in Westport for the first time and called the offence a ‘misunderstanding’.
Judge Fiona Lydon did not accept that the offence was a misunderstanding and that Mr Ward knew what he was doing on the day.  She sentenced him to two months in prison, suspended for 12 months. A order was made to forfeit the money collected to St Vincent De Paul, Westport.