Raiders took less than one minute to stuff almost €60,000 worth of smart phones into a duvet cover during a lightning night-time raid at a mobile phone shop.
Gheorghe Mazarache (30) was jailed for five years at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday for his role in the theft of €58,477 worth of merchandise from the Eir shop on O'Connell Street, Ennis, Co Clare, on February 10 last.
Judge Brian O'Callaghan said the headline sentence for the offence was seven years but reduced the jail term by two years, including an allowance of six months as Mazarache had pleaded guilty during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He described Mazarache, a father-of-12 from College Gardens, Maynooth, Co Kildare, as a "very active" member of the gang.
Along with three accomplices, Mazarache made off with 74 smartphones and one smartwatch in their car before they were intercepted by gardaí shortly after 2am on the outskirts of Ennis.
CCTV footage shown in court showed Mazarache smashing the front window of the shop repeatedly with a sledgehammer and then running inside with two other raiders.
The three are seen clearing the shelves of phones in the shop's stock room and placing them into a duvet cover.
Garda Aoife O'Malley told the court: "Once inside the store, it takes less than one minute for the crime to occur."
A woman living nearby heard the banging of the sledgehammer and alerted gardaí.
Mazarache was also the getaway driver and Gda O'Malley said the phones were all recovered when the getaway car was intercepted.
His counsel, Patrick Whyms, said his client is a Romanian national who has lived in Ireland since childhood and had been "caught in the act".