A judge spares an asylum seeker from being sentenced following a shoplifting incident in Westmeath

Mullingar Courthouse.

An Algerian asylum seeker who entered a supermarket in Mullingar to steal a series of electrical items has escaped criminal sanctions.

Habib Bouhali (31) of Columb Army Barracks, Ashe Road, Mullingar, Westmeath pleaded guilty at Mullingar District Court to shoplifting from Dunnes Stores, Harbor Place, Mullingar, Westmeath on May 11, 2024.

The court was told that Bouhali entered the store at around 1.30pm and took several items and then went through all the payment points.

Judge Deirdre Gearty was told the goods, which included electrical equipment including a razor, cans of Coke and deodorant, totaled just under €100.

It also emerged that upon police arrival at the scene, all items were recovered and found suitable for sale.

The defendant’s lawyer said his client was currently staying at Columb Barracks in the Midlands town as an international protection seeker seeking asylum.

The court heard that Bouhali pleaded guilty and stayed in the country for about five months. His lawyer asked the court to take into account his earlier plea, his cooperative approach towards gardaí and the fact that he had expressed remorse for what had happened.

Judge Gearty stated that she would reserve judgment and applied Art. 1 (1) of the Suspension Act.