Crime spree immigrant jailed for stealing bank cards from the elderly
A Romania who was part of a two-man team that stole elderly people's bank cards has been jailed for his part in the "nasty" crime spree.
David Dragomir, also known as Adrian Manuel Ghirvu, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court where he was handed a three-year sentence - half of which will be served in prison and the remainder on licence upon his release.
The 28-year-old father-of-two, whose address was given as Springfield Road in Wolverhampton, England, initially denied the offences, which were carried out over a 37-day period last May and June.
But he later admitted being part of a team that targeted elderly shoppers and pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud by false representation.
The total amount of money involved was just under £9,000.
Branding Dragomir's offending as "mean and nasty", Kate McKay, prosecuting, told how the team used an established modus operandi when targeting their victims.
One of the members of the gang would stand close to their victim as they were entering their PIN numbers to pay for shopping. Then, outside the shop, the victim would be approached by the other member of the gang, who would come up with a ruse to make the elderly person open up their purse or their wallet.
Typically, this either involved asking the victim for change or claiming they had dropped money. When their wallets or purses were opened, one of the men would take their bank cards from under the victim's nose after confusing them.
Telling judge Patricia Smyth that the banks involved had reimbursed all six of the victims, prosecutor Kate McKay said that the offending was "relatively sophisticated" and had involved a "well-practised sleight of hand in order to get hold of the cards".
The prosecutor also revealed that in November 2014, police became aware that Dragomir had been arrested for similar offences in Liverpool. The following month, PSNI officers travelled to England and apprehended him.
Defence counsel David Jones said his client would now be the subject of deportation.
Sentencing Dragomir to three years, Judge Smyth said he and his partner in crime were involved in a "carefully planned criminal enterprise".
She added: "There is no question that only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate for these offences.
"These are mean, distressing offences for elderly victims, and the courts must deter people, particularly repeat offenders, from behaving in this way."