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Former bridal store owner convicted after stealing dress payments from brides-to-be

Shirley Flanagan pleaded guilty to four counts of theft totalling €3,600

Image: Shutterstock/Andrei Zveaghintev

A FORMER BRIDAL store owner has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence after admitting stealing dress payments from bride-to-be customers.

At her sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court, gardaí accepted that Shirley Flanagan, proprietor of Robelle Bridal, Annacotty, “did not intend to con” the women.

Ms Flanagan’s barrister said she found herself in financial difficulties and in the throes of a deep depression following the death of her young son in April 2011.

Ms Flanagan (36) with an address at Rathuard, Donoughmore, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft totalling €3,600, on dates between January and May 2015.

Garda Sean O’Regan told the court that gardaí received a formal complaint from one of Flanagan’s customers on 7 May, 2015.

A number of women had paid Flanagan cash for designer dresses – in some cases the women were given other dresses, while in other cases they did not receive any dress.

The mother of one customer paid Flanagan €1,800 for a David Fielden dress, but never received it.

In other cases, women gave Flanagan deposits for dresses designed by Kenneth Winston and Justin Alexander, however they did not receive the dresses.

Gardaí alerted

Gardaí were alerted to the thefts after the matter was highlighted on social media sites. They found no orders had been placed with suppliers, despite Flanagan receiving money for the dresses.

The court heard Flanagan had been severely traumatised by the tragic death of her young son.

Garda O’Regan that the defendant had not “set out to con people” and was trying “to make a go” of the boutique business.

Cathal McGreal, defending Flanagan, said she had set up the business as a “distraction” from her grief.

O’Regan told McGreal:

Things ran away [from] her, she took risks.

Ms Flanagan cooperated with gardaí and no weddings were cancelled as a result of her actions.

In 2013, Ms Flanagan pleaded guilty at Limerick District Court to five counts of deception and two counts of knowingly using a false insurance document.

She admitted to dishonestly inducing five men who worked in her father’s taxi firm to give her a total of €4,400, on the pretence they would be issued with a valid motor insurance policy.

Flanagan, who was a trainee teacher at the time, said she committed the fraud to pay her mortgage which had fallen into arrears.

The court heard she later lost her home due to not being able to meet repayments.

Read: Gardaí investigating after boutique closure leaves brides with no wedding dresses

Read: Man’s careless driving left woman cyclist without ability to speak, walk or hear

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David Raleigh

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