A student who is of a nervous disposition was left visibly shaken in Cork city after a Romanian husband and wife pressurised him into making two withdrawals from his ATM.
Gheorghe Marginica, 29, and Michele Judele, 30, of no fixed address, have been sentenced to five months and three months in prison respectively. They denied theft but were convicted by Judge Olann Kelleher after a trial at Cork District Court.
The couple told the young man they needed the price of bus tickets from Cork to Dublin and would need money for food on the journey as it was a four-hour trip.
Detective Garda Aoife Hayes who met him after the crime said the college student was visibly shaken.
The young man said he was about to go to the English Market to buy some food when the man and woman approached him.
“They encroached on my personal space. He was very intent on getting money. I said I would get him €5 from the ATM – that was it and after that I must be on my way,” he said.
The young man said he took €40 out because he felt threatened by the man, his physical appearance and what might happen if he tried to seek help. He ended up taking out a further €20 when they said they needed more money.
“I felt extremely pressured and intimidated by these people. I was anxious, scared and overcome by this occurrence… I am of a nervous disposition,” he said.
Shane Collins-Daly said there was no physical contact by the two defendants and that the student volunteered this money to them having been asked. The young man replied: “I only gave this money to them out of intimidation. I would not say I gave it willingly.”
Gheorghe Marginica, 29, was assisted by an interpreter in court but stated himself: “If he is saying he is scared I don’t mean to do this. I never do bad things. I asked for enough to get taken to Dublin – me and my wife. €33 each. He gave €40.
"I was asking for money for food because bus is four hours to Dublin. I don’t make to scare him or do something bad. I never do bad things in my life to people. If I ask I ask nicely.”
Michele Judele, 30, also denied any part in the theft. “He (the student) said he wanted to help. He was laughing with us.”
Judge Olann Kelleher said: “I find both accused very untruthful. They cannot answer questions in a straight manner. I was very impressed with the evidence of the young man from UCC.
"He was anxious, scared and upset. He did not consent to any of this. This was a joint enterprise by both parties."
The jail sentences were backdated to March 27 when they went into custody on the theft charge.
It was previously alleged at a bail hearing that while they were allegedly living on the streets of Cork without welfare or employment that they had transferred €8,800 in cash home in the course of two months.