Section 4 Theft –
Section 4 Theft
Eileen, a young adult, was charged with a number of theft offences over a period of weeks from a shop where she was an employee. On a number of occasions, Eileen had taken her lunch from the deli without paying for it and had stolen other grocery items from the shop. She was seen on CCTV and the Gardaí were alerted. She was arrested and her employment was terminated. Eileen had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to the offences at the first opportunity. The District Court referred the matter to an NGO that delivers restorative justice, enabling a Caseworker to make an assessment regarding its suitability for a restorative approach.
Subsequently, the NGO’s Caseworker met with Eileen to discuss the offences and assess her attitude towards them. She said that she had been struggling financially but that this did not excuse what happened. She advised that she deeply regretted her actions and was willing to take whatever steps were necessary to make amends.
The Caseworker contacted the owner of the shop, John, to discuss the offence and what he felt needed to happen to resolve the matter. He described the impact of the offences from both a personal and financial perspective, and the impact on other staff members. Following Eileen’s arrest, there was an atmosphere of uncertainty, shock and disappointment amongst staff. John did not wish to attend a facilitated restorative meeting with Eileen, but he was happy for her to participate in the Reparation Programme and for his views to be discussed with Eileen and the panel. He further stated that he was happy for Eileen to be given a chance to learn from her mistake. He was happy that the Court had already ordered Eileen to pay compensation.
The case was considered suitable to proceed to a reparation panel as Eileen expressed remorse and willingness to make reparation and John had also expressed his satisfaction for matters to proceed as such.
Eileen attended a reparation panel, attended also by the NGO’s Caseworker, a local Garda who was trained to participate in restorative meetings and two community volunteers who were also trained to participate in restorative meetings. At the panel meeting, Eileen spoke at length about what had happened, who had been affected by her actions and how they were affected.
John’s views were presented to the meeting by the NGO Caseworker, and the Garda also gave an account of what happened. After hearing John’s point of view and the details of the offence from a Garda perspective, Eileen was asked to reflect on how it felt to hear those accounts. She said that she felt ashamed and was sorry for breaking the trust she had with her employer.
She said she was willing to apologise to John, although he stated that he just wanted her to learn from her mistake and did not feel the need to receive an apology. Eileen expressed her gratitude to John and reassured the panel that she learned from what happened. She advised that if she experienced financial difficulties in future, she would seek support from her family or a support service such as St. Vincent de Paul. She engaged in discussion around the impact on John and her former colleagues. She also reflected on the impact of the offence on her family and herself. She displayed insight into the impact this could have on her reputation and prospects of employment.
Eileen was asked to consider what she could do to address what had happened and to make amends. She agreed to undertake the following reparative actions:
- Avail of counselling support around coping skills.
- Volunteer her time in the community.
- Pay compensation to John as directed by the Court.
During an agreed period, Eileen completed all of these actions. She attended five counselling appointments and advised of her intention to continue doing so as she found the support to be beneficial. She also completed 20 hours of voluntary work in her local community and received positive feedback for doing so. John received the agreed financial compensation.
The NGO provided a report to the District Court detailing the restorative justice process, the agreement that was reached, and the reparative tasks undertaken. Following consideration, the matter was dealt with by means of Section 1(2) of the Probation of Offenders Act, meaning that no further sanction was imposed. Following the completion of the matter in Court, the NGO’s Caseworker liaised with both parties to advise of the outcome and discuss their experiences.