28 Jan 2022

Judge tells woman who stole hundreds of euros worth of drink in Longford: ‘It must have been some party’

Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Seamus Hughes issued a suspended sentence last week to a Romanian woman found guilty of shoplifting close to €1,000 worth of alcohol and groceries from Tesco in Longford town

A Romanian mother of two who stole hundreds of euros worth of alcohol and groceries from shops in Longford town just four months after arriving in Ireland has been handed a suspended prison sentence by Judge Seamus Hughes.

Ionela Cozma, of Mountain View House, Crosscool Harbour, Blessington, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court to carrying out three separate thefts arising from incidents at Tesco, Longford Shopping Centre on three separate dates between June 19 and July 24 this year.

Brid Mimnagh, defending said her client who previously had no fixed address was now residing in Wicklow and would be pleading guilty to all three of the charges.

She added Ms Cozma had been in court in Roscommon the previous Tuesday to similar incidents with the judge in that case opting for a probation report to be compiled on the accused.

Ms Mimnagh said the report itself would not be ready to be furnished to the court until December, a period of time which would allow her to gather compensation together.

As she continued her mitigation, Ms Mimnagh said Ms Cozmo was just four months in Ireland and was a mother of two children, both of whom had remained back in her native Romania.

Quizzed by Judge Hughes as to what prompted her to travel such a long distance from her homeland, Ms Mimnagh said her client had arrived here “in the hope of getting work”.

Taking issue with the offences before the court, Judge Hughes said he found Ms Cozmo’s version of events difficult to believe.

“Why would she take €250 worth of champagne and whiskey while living at home in Wicklow?” he asked.

“It must have been one hell of a party.”

Judge Hughes also asked Ms Cozmo, through an interpreter, how she went about profiting from her shoplifting exploits when it was revealed she had sold the entire contents “through a Romanian fellow” for €100.

“I wouldn’t go up Main Street in Longford with a bottle of whiskey and say ‘Do you want this for a tenner’?” Judge Hughes continued, as he also questioned why Ms Cozma chose Longford as her destination.

“She came looking for work,” said Ms Mimnagh.

“She looked for work all over town.”

Shaking his head in quiet indignation, Judge Hughes insisted Ms Cozma was being more than economical with the truth.

“I don’t believe a scintilla of what you are saying to me,” said the judge.

“On June 19 she came to Longford looking for work and stole €327 of alcohol.

“Again, looking for work a week later and without having success getting a job, she decided to enhance her wealth by stealing €250 of whiskey and champagne.

“Then, she comes back looking for work two weeks later and stole €393 worth of groceries.”

Taking to his feet, Sgt Paddy McGirl said none of the items stolen by the defendant were recovered.
He added that while Ms Cozma had no previous convictions on her record, there were other matters before other courts which she was facing possible sanctions for.

In summation, Judge Hughes said he was less than impressed with the conduct and level of contrition on behalf of the defendant.

“I got no satisfactory explanation whatsoever as to why three separate journeys from the east coast to Longford were taken and yet she (Ms Cozma) comes to court as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth,” he said.

In turning down an appeal by Ms Mimnagh to defer any ruling until a probation report was fully assembled on her client, Judge Hughes noted: “All the probation reports are going to tell me is what you have.

“If she comes before another court the length and breadth of Ireland they will see she got a suspended sentence in Longford.”

Judge Hughes drew a line under the case by issuing a four month suspended prison sentence for three years on all three of the charges. He also warned Ms Cozma of the potential consequences which awaited her if she continued to commit similar crimes in the future.

“If you want to remain in Ireland, get work,” Judge Hughes told her.

“But stop stealing from shops because if you do you will go to Mountjoy for four months where there is no drink available.”

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