A judge has jailed a ‘Beast From The East’ for 15 months who arrived here from Romania and targeted and stole from vulnerable old ladies, including one Shannon woman, after using ATM bank machines.
At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan said that Auriel Dinca (42) and his five month pregnant partner, Adriana Neagoe (26) had flown into Ireland from Romania “seeking out vulnerable people with bank accounts and essentially cleared out the bank accounts”.
Judge Durcan jailed ‘Beast from the East’ Mr Dinca for 15 months and imposed a five month suspended sentence on Ms Neagoe on condition that she leave Ireland within 14 days under the supervision of the prison authorities.
The couple both have addresses in their native Romania and Judge Durcan said that he was not jailing Ms Neagoe as she had considerably less charges than Mr Dinca and had no previous convictions for theft unlike Mr Dinca.
He said: “Her involvement was less than Mr Dinca.”
Jailing Mr Dinca, Judge Durcan said: “People can’t come in from outside like the ‘Beast from the East’ we complained about earlier this year in a weather sense and now we have it in a human form, ‘The Beast from the East’ comes in and targets vulnerable people and this court is not tolerating that.”
Judge Durcan said: “It is mind-boggling that people come in from Romania and target Ireland and experienced criminals come in here and target vulnerable people.”
Judge Durcan said that €2,100 was stolen from Monica Donovan in Gort in April of this year; €2,571 from Ann O’Flaherty in Galway City last November; €2,400 from Kathleen Fitzgerald in February in Cork and €3,080 from Tess Frost in Shannon in February of this year.
Judge Durcan said that two had “gone on a spree” and that the victims were only fully compensated by their banks and not by the perpetrators of the crime.
Insp Tom Kennedy said that what occurred “was at the highest end of deceitful activity I have ever come across”.
He said that the victims were “vulnerable citizens, some in their 70s and 80s out doing their shopping and you have these sneaky people coming behind them noting down their PIN numbers at ATM machines and later distracting the person in car-parks”.
Insp Kennedy said that the two “while distracting the old ladies would thieve bank cards and go to bank machines and clear out the accounts and toddle off on their merry way”.
The inspector said that for only very good detective work by the Gardai in Gort, they may never have been caught.
Insp Kennedy said that the two “were tracking these vulnerable ladies. It is very alarming. These two were preying on women of advancing years and trawling the country for them. It is a terrible crime. I have never seen anything so deceitful.”
The two pleaded guilty to a series of thefts and counsel for both accused said that Mr Dinca carried out the offences as he suffers from a gambling addiction and had stolen the money to pay back loan sharks.
Counsel said that Ms Neagoe had worked in a bank in her native Romania and as a retail manager in Switzerland.
He said that Ms Neagoe’s father is a police officer in Romania and her parents believe that she is on an extended holiday here.
He said that she would be an innocent party to a certain extent “and it would be a crime of passion as she followed her better half”.
Counsel said that his client is in custody for the first time and asked that Judge Durcan structure the sentence to allow him leave the country and not be a burden on the State.
Judge Durcan refused, stating that would be the soft option and jailed Mr Dinca for 15 months.