A HOMELESS grandmother, who is facing public order charges relating to an incident at a local hotel which homes Ukrainians, was badly beaten up in her prison cell while praying to God, a court heard last week.
She also handed a note to the judge in which it was claimed that Ireland was being invaded by ‘foreign nationals’, some of whom were ‘rapists or murderers’.
Margaret Buttimer of no fixed abode appeared in custody at Bandon District Court with significant bruising to her face including two black eyes.
It is claimed that on January 26th last, she engaged in offensive conduct at the Munster Arms Hotel on Oliver Plunkett Street in the town, and repeatedly asked how many Ukrainians were staying in the hotel and what it was costing the State. When requested to leave the area by gardaí, she refused, and was arrested. She had appeared at Bantry District Court the previous week after she failed to abide by a previous condition of her release – to stay away from the same hotel. She had been convicted of offences of a similar nature two days previously at Skibbereen District Court and given a 28-day sentence, which was deemed served by Judge James McNulty.
At court last week, she told Judge McNulty that she shares a prison cell with two other women in Limerick Prison and has been praying.
‘One of them started tearing up the bible and she took two crosses off the rosary beads and started to burn them. I stood over her praying to myself and this went on for a few hours,’ said Ms Buttimer.
‘Then at 2am my other cell mate told me to get into bed. No one tells me to go to bed and I sat there. She punched me in the head and assaulted me in the cell,’ Ms Buttimer alleged.
Judge McNulty said he was very sorry to hear that she was assaulted and was informed by a senior prison officer in court that Ms Buttimer has been placed in a single prison cell since the assault. He asked the prison officers to take ‘extra special care’ of her as he said she is ‘vulnerable’.
The judge also directed the preparation of a psychiatric report at the request of her solicitor, Plunkett Taaffe. He said this is to be done on a co-operative basis between the Prison Service and the outreach team at the Central Mental Hospital.
Judge McNulty also queried if there was any news of either of the accused’s sons supporting her.
He was told that one of them was due to be in court that day, but had failed to appear.
‘If he saw his mother the way she is today would he reach out to her? She needs to be protected and maybe her sons should do more. It’s not too late to reach out to her,’ said Judge McNulty.
He also commented on a note that Ms Buttimer had handed to him in court, which wasn’t in her handwriting, which he said was an ‘unhelpful influence and filling her head with nonsense.’
The note made reference to the ‘invasion of Ireland by foreign nationals’ and whether some people are being vetted in their own country for being ‘rapists or murderers’.
Solicitor Plunkett Taaffe said his client was contesting these latest public order charges, while Sgt Paul Kelly said the prosecution was objecting to her being released on bail.
Mr Taaffe agreed to a remand in custody for his client with a full trial due to take place on February 20th.