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Heavily pregnant theft suspect released from custody because she is about to give birth, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/04/2015

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A heavily pregnant woman accused of targeting a pensioner in a distraction theft can be released from custody because she is about to give birth, a High Court judge ruled today.

Lamita Mihai was granted bail on a charge of stealing £140 from the 86-year-old woman in Derry.

The 20-year-old Romanian national, who already has four children, is to live at an address in County Donegal.

Mr Justice Deeny said: "The fact she will reside outside the jurisdiction would normally be a significant difficulty about granting bail.

"However, it's outweighed in my view in this instance by the fact she is about to give birth."

Mihai and another woman are alleged to have approached the elderly victim in a car park at Lisnaglevin Shopping Centre on March 20.

They asked the woman for change of a £2 coin and then distracted her by walking her over to a trolley bay, the court heard.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, claimed Mihai then took the pensioner's purse, supposedly to look for change.

Later the woman realised at least £140 was missing.

Two days later she contacted the PSNI to say she had spotted the same two suspects approaching her 94-year-old friend near St Columb's Cathedral in the city, according to the prosecution.

It was alleged that they had asked this woman for change to make a phone call.

Police then arrived on the scene and detained the pair.

Opposing bail, Mrs McKay acknowledged Mihai's pregnant condition.

"While one has sympathy for her dilemma, there are major concerns about her re-offending," the barrister said.

"These are mean offences where vulnerable, elderly people were targeted."

Mrs McKay argued that the prison has the facilities for those being held to give birth.

Defence counsel Stephen Mooney stressed his client is nine months pregnant and poses no risk of fleeing.

"Police believed she may have gone into labour while in the police station at one point," he said.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Deeny noted the accused's father is willing to put up a £500 cash surety to secure her release.

He ordered Mihai to surrender her identity card before being released from custody.

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