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Pregnant Slovakian thief who targeted elderly victims in Belfast refused bail

Published 12/04/2016

A pregnant Slovakian thief who targeted elderly victims in Belfast must remain in custody, a judge ruled today.

Blanca Harvathova was refused bail after she admitted stealing a purse containing £100 cash from an 84-year-old woman out shopping in the east of the city.

Harvathova, 30, has already been jailed for taking £500 from another pensioner the same month.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard her previous record involves thefts committed in Slovakia and Germany.

Last month she was ordered to serve three months in Hydebank and fined £250 for stealing cash from a woman on February 23.

It is understood the victim had just withdrawn money from a bank.

Harvathova, with an address at Glencairn Crescent in Belfast, appeared back in court today charged with an earlier theft on February 1.

CCTV showed her lifting a purse with £100 in it from a bag or trolley belonging to the elderly woman at a fruit shop on the Cregagh Road.

Following the guilty plea defence counsel argued that Harvathova's ex-partner had put her under pressure to carry out the thefts.

With the previously imposed jail term nearly completed, the barrister urged District Judge Fiona Bagnall to release his client on bail.

He revealed she is nearly eight months pregnant and wants to make arrangements for her unborn child.

"I have to fully accept both (victims) were vulnerable persons, but this lady could be put to the test," he contended.

"Her concerns at this stage are with her unborn child."

But pointing to a third offence back in 2013, Judge Bagnall said Harvathova had used the same modus operandi each time.

Refusing bail, she said: "It appears a very elderly person has been targeted specifically.

"I have grave concerns in releasing her at this stage."

Harvathova was ordered to remain in custody until she is sentenced next month.

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