Two women had so many stolen bottles of champagne, prosecco and wine concealed under traditional-style skirts that they could only manage to ‘waddle’ out of an off-licence on their way to a party in Mitchelstown.
Each woman had approximately 15 bottles concealed in her skirts. They also went behind the counter when a man with them distracted the shop assistant and they stole cigarettes.
Garda Caroline Horgan said the total quantity of alcohol and cigarettes stolen from O’Donovan’s off-licence on Cork Road in Carrigaline that Sunday night amounted to €1,335.
The man who walked into the store seconds before them and distracted the young man behind the counter, made some purchases while he was there – including a packet of condoms.
Questioning him later in relation to his alleged part in the theft, Garda Horgan asked: “You came into the shop with two women and you bought condoms and they were not for them?” Vasile Munteanu replied: “No, they were for other things – my own things – personal.”
He denied having any knowledge of the women going to steal champagne and the other items. He also said that when they got back to Mitchelstown he did not go to the party, he went to bed.
It was later established that the two women stole 30 bottles between them and were probably carrying 15 bottles each, concealed inside their traditional skirts.
Referring to the CCTV, Garda Horgan said: “They have so much stuff they nearly fell over. One lady stumbles and catches on to something. It (the volume of stolen bottles) causes both of them to waddle.”
Garda Horgan said at Cork District Court: “All three were acting in concert.” Dennis Healy, defence solicitor, said the accused were pleading not guilty but they were not giving evidence in the case.
Judge Olann Kelleher said: “I am totally satisfied it was a joint enterprise. I have no hesitation convicting.”
Mr Healy said Julie Muntean – a 21-year-old mother of three – and Vasile Munteanu, both with an address at Clonmel Road, Mitchelstown, County Cork, were “pawns in a bigger game. It was orchestrated by another person.”
He said that Julie Muntean was “completely coerced” on this occasion and had no previous convictions. “She is not an active criminal or anything like that,” Mr Healy said. Judge Kelleher said that he would direct a probation report on her and he adjourned sentencing until December for that purpose.
However, Judge Kelleher imposed a six-month jail term on Vasile Munteanu, noting that he had two previous theft convictions. Mr Healy asked the judge if he would consider imposing a community service order instead of the jail term.
Judge Kelleher said: “It was too serious for that. It was an organised crime – a joint enterprise.”
The evidence was that Vasile Munteanu distracted the young man working in the store by asking him various questions. He wanted to know where in the store he would find WKD and he also asked if a particular bottle of Rosé was sweet or dry.
The second woman referred to in evidence was not before the court.