District Judge Barney McElholm has said that it is 'absolutely disgraceful' that the authorities were still using the Vagrancy Ireland Act of 1847 to prosecute people for begging.

His comments came during the case involving a Romanian woman Myhaela Alina Avadanii (37) of no fixed abode who appeared charged with begging on November 7.

A police officer told Derry Magistrate's Court that Avadanii, who had lost her nose in a road accident, was observed asking people for money outside the Richmond Centre.

He said she previously been warned about begging.

When arrested she was found to have £222.26 and 4.98 in euros.

She told police she had raised the money over the previous few days.

Defence barrister Eoghain Devlin said Avadanii's solicitor was currently trying to arrange her flight home to Romania where she had five children.

He said he was making the unusual application for the court not to seize the money but to have it returned to the defendant.

Judge McElholm said: "This lady was not intimidating anyone and people were voluntarily giving her money."

He imposed an absolute discharge.

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