Pair accused of £25k phone shop thefts 'acted out of desperation', court hears
Two Romanian men allegedly linked to the organised theft of up to £25,000 worth of stock from phone shops acted out of desperation, the High Court has heard.
A judge was told one of the pair raided an O2 store in Co Down for multiple high-value goods within days of arriving in Ireland.
Iulian Marin (20) and 18-year-old Alejandro Marcu were both refused bail on Thursday.
They were arrested by police investigating three separate stealing sprees at 02 branches in Banbridge and Armagh between August 31 and September 27.
Marin, of Palmerstown Lodge in Dublin, is charged with all three thefts.
Co-accused Marcu, with an address at Blanchardstown in the Irish capital, faces a single count of theft.
In one incident, on September 21, four new iPhone 11 models were stolen just before the Armagh store closed for the day.
Thieves entered and grabbed devices as the shutters were half-way down, prosecution counsel said.
She told the court: "Police estimate the total value of items stolen in the three incidents, including damage to security tags, to be in excess of £25,000 worth of goods."
Opposing bail, the barrister described it as a "highly organised endeavour" over a period of less than a month.
Defence barrister Kevin Magill confirmed Marin has admitted two of the thefts, while Marcu accepts the charge against him.
Both men were arrested following the latest incident in Banbridge - when £12,000 worth of stock was stolen.
The court heard Marin has lived in Dublin since the age of four, but now shares a single room in accommodation for the homeless with his girlfriend and their child.
"It seems these criminal enterprises were out of desperation for money at the time," Mr Magill said.
He disclosed that Marcu only came to the Republic of Ireland on September 19 - eight days before the raid he is charged with north of the border.
Counsel added: "He arrived here hoping to make a better life for himself, had no money and in desperation allowed himself to become involved."
Citing the scale and level of organisation involved in the thefts, Mrs Justice Keegan ruled both men must remain in custody.
She said: "I'm not at the minute satisfied bail should be granted on the basis of a risk of re-offending and a risk of flight."
Belfast Telegraph Digital