Have-a-go hero OAP praised by judge for catching duo who burgled her home
An elderly woman from Co Tyrone has been lauded in court as "courageous" for chasing two men who burgled her home.
As well as being commended by the judge, the victim's actions even drew praise from a defence barrister, who remarked that she "deserves great credit" in almost single-handedly bringing the burglars to justice.
However, following an appearance in court where the charges were admitted, the two burglars received a fine and are to return to their home, which is only a short distance from the victim - although they are banned from entering her road.
Appearing before Dungannon Magistrates Court were Romanian nationals Raves Constan (42) and Miha-Vasile Pintiala (45), both of Drumreaney Avenue, Castlecaulfield, who pleaded guilty to the joint charge of entering a property on July 12 as trespassers and stealing items.
The court heard police received a call around 8.30pm on the night in question to say the woman had disturbed a burglary in process.
She lives in the property alongside the targeted premises in Castlecaulfield, which she also owns. Having been alerted to noises, she investigated and entered the back door, from where she clearly heard sounds. Having gone outside again she observed a male, who turned out to be Constan, standing in the kitchen.
The woman shouted at him to get out and he fled. She then got into her car and while doing so observed a second male walking toward the property. This was Pintiala, but the co-accused was heard calling him, and the two made off toward Castlecaulfield village. The victim gave chase in her car and flagged down police as they arrived soon after.
The pair were arrested and charged, both making full admissions during interview. They claimed the door of the house was unlocked, but it was subsequently found to have been forced, damaging the lock.
Constan was inside and at his point Pintiala decided to walk to the village to buy beer.
On his return the co-accused had fled the house and the pair made off on foot.
Defence for Constan, Fintan McAleer, said his client accepted being in the house and rummaging through cupboards and wardrobes. He apologised for his actions and to the victim.
Mr McAleer said Constan had lost two days' work and liberty since his arrest. He had been sending money back to his family in Romania.
The defence for Pintiala, Blaine Nugent, put forward a similar plea, describing the theft as unsophisticated, and also resulting in loss of work and liberty. He described Pintiala as also supporting family in his native Romania and said the incident had been a "short, sharp, shock".
During sentencing Deputy District Judge Gerry Trainor took into account the immediate guilty pleas and the fact both men are supporting their families financially in Romania.
He imposed a fine of £200 each on Constan and Pintiala and ordered them to collectively pay £50 to cover the cost of the forced door lock.
Judge Trainor added: "Courageous though this lady is, she will not want to see either of you looking over her hedge. I see no reason for you to be on her road."
They were also bound over to keep the peace for 18 months in the sum of £300 each, with a specific requirement not to enter the area of the victim's road, either on foot or in a vehicle.