Jail birth warning for pregnant serial thief


A pregnant serial thief will be giving birth in jail if she commits any further dishonesty offences, a judge has warned.

Donna Marie Keenan, 23, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to be dealt with for a crime spree that also involved tendering counterfeit currency.

But deferring his sentencing to next January, District Judge George Conner told her there could be no more stealing.

He said: “The alternative ... is this baby is going to be born in custody. I can’t think of a worse start for any child.”

Keenan, of Alliance Avenue in Belfast, was due to be dealt with for a catalogue of offending.

She was convicted of twice stealing goods from a service station in March this year, and further thefts from another garage in Templepatrick and store in Antrim the same month.

Four other counts of theft involved drinks, sandwiches and birthday cards worth a total of £67 being taken from a filling station on dates between January and April.

She also pleaded guilty to stealing goods valued at £44.96 from a garage in Ballyclare in March.

Two counts of tendering counterfeit currency related to passing fake Ulster Bank notes on dates last year.

The mother-of-two is now expecting her third child sometime in February, the court heard.

Defence solicitor Charlene Graham accepted her client was in breach of previously suspended sentences and facing the real prospect of being sent to prison.

“There she would go through the pregnancy in custody and, depending on the length of custodial sentence could give birth to a baby while in custody,” she said.

“It’s just not what any court in this jurisdiction wants to see.”

Ms Graham added that Keenan had been honest in not trying to use feeding her children as an excuse for stealing.

Instead, the lawyer contended, her offending was motivated by psychological issues.

Following defence submissions Judge Conner agreed to give her an opportunity to engage with probation.

He told Keenan: “By rights I should be sending you straight into custody.

“But there’s enough in this report to make me feel I want to give you a chance.

“I’m going to defer (sentencing), but there cannot be any further offending, no thieving, no more counterfeit money, nothing of a dishonest nature.”