TWO Romanians caught as they fled Ballymoney after stealing around £2,000 from Milltown Spar in the town are part of a gang which a judge believes deliberately came to Northern Ireland to steal.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court Ionut Guita (26) and Iulian Cojocaru (30) - who both gave their addresses as the same apartment in Londonderry’s Strand Road - were each jailed for six months and it is expected they will be deported upon their release.
A prosecutor told the court an employee of the Spar spotted a gang of robbers at 4am on July 21 this year who had entered the building by making a hole in the roof after an alarm had been disabled.
They raided cash from around 12 tills and made off with around £2,000 before four people were arrested and the money was recovered. The court was told the men had only been in Northern Ireland for a short time before the burglary. A defence solicitor for Guita said although his client has no record here there may be a record in Romania.
Sentencing the men, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said he really should have any potential Romania records in front of him as he believed it was a “burglary gang which has come from Romania to Northern Ireland to burgle”.
He said the men ended up in the same set of apartments and after asking defence lawyers if they wanted to proceed in the absence of any information from eastern Europe he said he would add two months to the sentence to reflect that.
Judge Holmes said it was an “extremely sophisticated well thought out burglary” and added: “While there is no more cast iron evidence before me that you are effectively a gang of burglars I have little doubt that you have entered Northern Ireland with the express intention to do what you have been doing.
“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and you have no records as yet in Northern Ireland but this was certainly a sophisticated and well planned burglary. You will both serve six months in prison and as I understand it you will then be deported back to Romania.”