'WHAT SORT OF JUSTICE IS THIS?'

THERE have been calls for tougher sentencing after a Banbridge woman walked free from court after pleading guilty to stealing £12,500 from a local pensioner.

Maureen Mulligan (57), from the Peggy's Loaning area, pleaded guilty to ten charges including one of theft, six counts of money laundering and three of deception dating back from January 2004 until February 2007.

Mulligan received a one year suspended jail term in addition to nine suspended three-month prison sentences which are to run concurrently. She was further ordered to pay 2,500 in compensation to her victim.

Her victim Joyce Porter (88) gave an exclusive interview to the Leader recalling the horrendous abuse of trust case which saw her, a vulnerable pensioner, robbed of her life-savings.

The Leader has since been inundated with calls from people throughout the Banbridge district and indeed much further afield, who are angry at the sentence Mulligan received.

Many feel she should have received a harsher sentence, with some stating that justice has not been done and she should have been sent to prison.

One woman contacted the Leader to say, "What a brave little lady Joyce Porter is. She had the courage to stand up for justice and see it through. In my opinion Maureen Mulligan is an evil woman."

Another young woman wrote to the Leader stating, "I think the Banbridge public should stand up and voice their views on this 'sentence'. It is way too lenient and we should not forget that Joyce Porter is a lady who has travelled the world and met many many people. It is sad that in her twilight years, she met someone in our town who has destroyed her trust in mankind."

A Banbridge man added, "I am totally disgusted that someone can do this to another human being and walk free from court."

He added, "I am clean disgusted that someone can do this to an elderly person."

Another elderly woman said, "I was shocked to read in the Leader how Maureen Mulligan walked free from court. I feel so sorry for the victim."

A woman who works in Banbridge rang the Leader to say, "I've just read the newspaper and can't believe the sentence. This woman should have went to prison and she only had to compensate her victim with a measly 2,500. What sort of justice is that?"