Lithuanian students in Belfast shoplifting spree jailed for a week
Three students have been jailed for going on a shoplifting spree at clothes stores in Belfast ahead of a planned flight back to their native Lithuania.
Lawyers for the trio claimed they stole up to £1,800 worth of jeans, jackets and T-shirts from city centre stores in a bid to impress family and friends on their return from summer jobs in Northern Ireland.
Mantas Rainys (23), Sarunas Bagdonavicius and Lukas Poderis, both 22, were each sentenced to one week in prison after they admitted carrying out last weekend's offences.
However, they are still expected to be released in time to board pre-booked flights home on Saturday.
The three men, all with an address at First Avenue in Newry, targeted a sports shop and clothes stores in and around the Victoria Square shopping centre on August 21.
They were carrying some of the stolen goods when they were stopped. A magnet used to help carry out the thefts was also recovered.
Prosecutors said large amounts of clothing with the price tags still attached were seized during follow-up searches at their accommodation in Newry.
The three defendants all pleaded guilty to charges of theft, handling stolen goods and going equipped for theft.
It was revealed that Rainys is at university studying sports science, while Bagdonavicius and Poderis are both engineering students.
Defence solicitor Pat Kelly said that his clients were ashamed and had acted with "stupidity and naivety".
He told the court the trio had spent the past two months working at a recycling plant in the Newry area for the minimum wage.
"The reason they carried out these offences is they wanted to impress their family and friends with how well they did in Northern Ireland by having nice new clothes," Mr Kelly said.
Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter ruled that the defendants must face immediate imprisonment for their "clearly premeditated 'shopping' expeditions up to Belfast".
Imposing one-week sentences so they can be released again by Saturday, Judge Prenter added: "It gives me no pleasure doing it."