Donka Ilieva, aged 43, and her niece, Ettima Ivanova, aged 19, of no fixed address in Ireland, yesterday pleaded guilty to stealing a handbag from the trolley of an elderly woman at Tesco in Douglas at 5pm on Saturday, March 7.
They claimed, through solicitor Elaine O’Sullivan, who represented them on free legal aid, that they came into Cork by boat on Friday on the promise of washing-up jobs in a restaurant.
Ms O’Sullivan said the women claimed they were let down by the Bulgarian person they were supposed to meet and that they stole the handbag out of economic necessity.
Inspector Bill Duane contradicted this evidence. “They say they arrived on Friday, our information is they arrived on Wednesday targeting elderly women in shopping centres,” he said.
“Parties such as these [the two accused] arrive here and depart with the produce of their thefts after a number of days.”
Judge Leo Malone imposed a €500 fine on each woman, payable immediately or else they face 45 days in prison. Ms O’Sullivan said a male Bulgarian relative had come over from London to support the two women at Cork District Court yesterday.
Garda Melvyn O’Connor testified that on Saturday afternoon at Tesco in Douglas Shopping Centre, the two accused were tracked on CCTV acting suspiciously in the store. They were seen following an elderly woman.
When the trolley was unattended, Donka took the handbag containing €300 and handed it to Ivanova. They left the store separately, were caught, and arrested.
Speaking through an interpreter, Donka said: “We are very sorry.”
Ms O’Sullivan said they did not make any physical confrontation to the victim, who would not have been immediately aware of the theft being committed.