Thursday 20 June 2019

'Distraction theft' of iPhones

A 23-year-old man who was part of a group of two males who stole two iPhones from a shop on Wine Street was given nine months imprisonment suspended for two years at Sligo Circuit Court on Wednesday last.

The defendant Martin Muntean with an address at Warren Grove, Boyle appeared before Judge Francis Comerford for sentencing on Wednesday.

He had admitted at a previous sitting of the Circuit Court back in July to stealing two rose gold iPhones from Jingle Jangle shop on Wine Street the property of MsElaine Mulligan on October 2nd 2017.

Mr Pat Reynolds BL instructed by Ms Elisa McHugh told the court the value of the two iPhones was €900.

Investigating garda Niamh Diver said that on October 2nd 2017 gardai received a call at 2:55pm that two men had entered the Jingle Jangle shop on Wine Street and one of the men lifted two mobile phones while the other man distracted the shop owner.

They then left the shop and got into a Volkswagen Polo on the street. When gardaí arrived the two mobile phones were in the vehicle, Garda Diver outlined.

Mr Reynolds said that as per CCTV footage Muntean was the look out while the other man was involved in the taking.

Muntean had previous convictions including no insurance and public order.

Garda Diver then read out a Victim Impact Statement from the owner of the Jingle Jangle shop on Wine St, Elaine Mulligan.

In her statement, Ms Mulligan said that the actions of the defendant on the day in question had greatly impacted on her life.

She was waking up at night and constantly afraid and no longer trusts people like before.

She said that friends and family had to sit with her in the shop as she didn't like being alone there after the incident.

She also had to open the shop the following day as she had no choice as she was self employed and needed the money.

Ms Mulligan said that the financial impact from the events was huge and she now has no desire to go to work.

She was afraid to be on her own and had also changed her working hours as before this happened she used to work late into the evenings but no longer does so.

She said that people who commit these types of crimes shouldn't be getting away with them and in terms of the emotional and financial impact it has had on her that she felt the man should be held accountable for his actions.

Mr Keith O'Grady BL, instructed by Mr Eddie Henry (solicitor) said that the other party involved had evaded gardaí and had provided false details and managed to avoid coming to court.

He said the shop owner had customers for the iPhones and was concerned they would be returned to her, which they were.

He said that there was no financial loss in terms of the phones and added that in fairness to Ms Mulligan that she is a well-respected business woman in the town.

He said that due to good police work and the actions of Ms Mulligan that the property was recovered.

The court heard that Muntean was born in 1994 while his older accomplice was born in 1984 and was intent on blaming him.

Mr O'Grady said that it appeared it was a joint enterprise case and they entered a plea.

He said this was the first time the defendant was in the Circuit Court.

He said his client accepts that he was guilty and asked not to impose a custodial sentence.

Judge Comerford said it was not quite that simple as Muntean knew he was involved in the theft of the phones.

Mr O'Grady replied that he was not the primary offender and wanted the court to be clear on that.

He was the lookout man, the man who distracted the shop owner, he added.

The judge said he was a man who was involved in a planned burglary of two valuable items and accepted all indications that he was the lesser of the two but was still fully responsible as a burglary had taken place.

He said he was going to deal with the matter by way of a suspended sentence and handed down a nine month sentence which he suspended for two years.

He ordered Muntean to attend with the Probation Services and engage with the Linkage Programme.

He told Muntean that he was giving him a chance and to take it.

Mr O'Grady said they were very much obliged.

Sligo Champion