A Mayo woman has been ordered to pay €500 to charity, after pleading guilty to a breach of the 2009 Charities Act.

Maureen Gaughan with an address at Kemar House, Carne, Belmullet, Co Mayo, set up a charity shop in Belmullet which was unregistered.

The store - Second Chance Boutique - was closed by the Charities Regulator following a complaint by a member of the public.

Ms Gaughan told Belmullet District Court today that she had not gained a penny from the venture.

Garda Daniel Malone said that when he investigated the matter in December 2015, he found two charity shop signs pointing towards the premises on American Street, Belmullet.

The garda said Ms Gaughan admitted the shop was not operating as a registered charity. Over 70 bags of second-hand clothing and boxes of toys and books, as well as €362 in cash was seized.

In evidence Ms Gaughan told her solicitor she had been involved for years with St Vincent de Paul and when the charity's shop in Belmullet closed she tried to fill the void. She said she intended to collect money for anyone seeking financial assistance.

Judge Alan Mitchell said it had not been proven that the defendant gained personally from the venture but added that he could not disregard the fact there had been a breach of the Charities Act and he had to send out a message in that regard.

Remanding the case to November, the judge he said he would dismiss the case under the Probation Act if €500 was paid to the RNLI.

The Charities Regulator has welcomed the prosecution, saying it was essential that public trust in charity shops was not breached by unregistered operators.

It said people should check to be sure that any store they donate items to is properly registered.