An Irish army officer who qualified for the Miss Ireland beauty pageant, has been court-martialled for dereliction of duty.
But she escaped being thrown out of the Irish Defence Forces after she admitted abandoning her post to go to pay off a debt and then trying to cover it up.
Lieutenant Collette McBarron (23) was reprimanded after pleading guilty to illegally leaving her base for several hours while on security duty in September 2007.
Military judge Col Anthony McCourt said 2nd Lt McBarron had “betrayed the trust and confidence placed in her as an officer and failed to maintain the honour and good conduct expected of her”.
Fining Lt McBarron, who is originally from Donegal town, a total of €950 this week, he warned she could expect a military court to seriously consider her dismissal from the defence forces if she once again “misbehaved in even the slightest way”.
Lt McBarron, of the 27th Infantry Battalion attached to the 2nd Infantry Battalion at Dublin's Cathal Brugha barracks, pleaded guilty to three charges. Three other charges were dropped.
She betrayed |the trust and |confidence placed in her as an officer
Cmdt Richard Brennan, acted as counsel for the Director of Military Prosecutions, while a civilian solicitor, Conor Connelly, defended Lt McBarron.
In court Lt McBarron admitted to leaving her post as orderly officer without permission.
She also pleaded guilty to falsely recording in a ledger that she had carried out a patrol on the same night. She admitted she lied to her CO six weeks later, telling him a named colleague had agreed to cover for her on the night she was absent from her post. The colleague denied this.
Mr Connelly said the officer, who earned €34,690 per year, had run into financial difficulties and borrowed cash from a person who now wanted it back. She felt “isolated and vulnerable” over the debt. Lt McBarron felt under severe pressure to deal with the debt and left the base, after first locking up her official firearm and 20 rounds of ammunition.
After a lengthy sentencing statement, Colonel McCourt fined Lt McBarron €500, €250 and €200 for each of the three offences, with a severe reprimand for each.
He ordered the officer, to pay off €500 a month.