FOUR men in an Audi pulled up outside a Kinsale supermarket to steal a purse from a trolley and then pulled up outside another, where they snatched a handbag, a court has heard.
As a result, a Romanian man who was involved in the crimes has been given seven days to get out of the country.
Judge Olann Kelleher imposed a six-month jail term but suspended the sentence on the defendant’s undertaking to return to his family in Spain within seven days.
Detective Garda Kevin Heffernan said all four men were seen on CCTV getting out of the Audi and entering the supermarket separately.
They walked around until one of them had stolen something from a trolley and once that was done, they all left in less than a minute and drove away together. No purchase was made by any of them, the detective said.
Ionut Croitoriu, 32, of Cathedral Mews, Upper John St, Cork, was before Cork District Court for sentencing for his part in carrying out two thefts. He pleaded guilty to both and brought €600 to court to compensate in full for all of the stolen property. Defence solicitor Eddie Burke said his client came to Ireland to get work that did not materialise and now planned to return to his family in Spain who were due to send him a ticket to return.
Judge Kelleher said: ‘This was a planned operation. It is very serious – looking for vulnerable people to steal money from them. It must have been a frightening experience, I have no doubt, to have had their bag snatched in a public place.’
Det Garda Heffernan said that although Croitoriu was not physically involved in any of the thefts, it was clear from CCTV that it was a joint enterprise.
Croitoriu was also the driver of the Audi on the relevant date, November 29th.
The detective spotted the car in Cork city on Sunday, December 9. Croitoriu was arrested and the car was seized.
The court had earlier heard that on November 29th at Supervalu, The Glen, Kinsale, a purse was stolen from a trolley, and at Lidl, Barrack’s Hill, on the same date, an iPhone was stolen.
At the earlier court, Judge Olann Kelleher asked where the defendant got the Audi. Mr Burke said the young man bought it for €600 when he arrived in Ireland.
When €600 was brought to court as compensation, the judge asked where he got this money. Mr Burke said the defendant had a distant relative living in Ireland.
‘He was working as a farm hand in Spain but the work dried up. He was promised work by these people. He thought they were friends but they are not his friends. His intention now is to return home,’ Mr Burke said.