Romanian brothers weep in court as they admit theft spree

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TWO Romanan brothers wept in court on Thursday (April 2) as they pleaded guilty a theft spree across County Antrim in which they scammed shop staff and stole cigarettes, scratchcards and charity boxes.

At Ballymena Magistrates Court they were each given four months jail terms, suspended for two years, for the crime burst which saw them target shops in Ballymoney and Ballymena on Tuesday night (March 31).

Suraj Mihai (21), of Ebrington Park, Londonderry and his brother Marcut Mahai (20), whose address was given as Mill Road, Newtowncunningham in County Donegal, admitted charges relating to thefts from three shops in Ballymoney and a fourth outlet at Tullygarley, Ballymena. Items taken included cigarettes, scratch cards and charity boxes.

A car was stopped at Derry’s Victoria Road and Suraj Mihai also admitted driving without insurance nor a licence and was banned from the roads for a year and fined £200.

A defence lawyer said the brothers have lived in various addresses across Northern Ireland and in the Republic since coming here 17 years ago.

As they wept in the dock, the lawyer said they were “extremely anxious and very emotional”.

He said a friend had told the brothers he had got away with the scam in the past and told them to approach the till with some groceries and ask for three scratch cards and cigarettes and pocket them but then to say they didn’t want the groceries and leave.

The lawyer said the men had taken their father’s BMW car for the crime trip. The court was told around £70 in coins was found in the vehicle when stopped by police and that the charity boxes were mostly from the Marie Curie cancer charity

District Judge Des Perry ordered the seized cash to be given to the charity.

He asked if the brothers had won anything on the scratchcards and the lawyer said he didn’t believe they had and the scratchcards had in fact not been used and were fit for re-sale.