Two men who were found with stolen catalytic converters after attempting to steal a van have been handed a three month prison sentence.
Court heard how one of the defendants was found in an outbuilding on the Mall after jumping from a moving vehicle to flee police.
Anghel Toader, of Willowwood Green, and Ion Dobrin, whose address was given simply as Dublin, both aged 33, pleaded guilty to handling stolen properly, going equipped for theft and attempted theft of a Citroen Berlingo valued at £12,000 at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.
Toader also entered pleas to having no driving licence or insurance.
Prosecution outlined that on November 20, at 6.16am, police were tasked to search for an individual seen acting suspiciously in the Loughgall Road area of Armagh.
He was said to be “loitering” around vehicles in the grounds of a residential property.
A short time later a silver Ford Transit van in a state of disrepair was spotted being driven erratically through Armagh city.
When signalled to stop, a male front seat passenger exited the vehicle and fled on foot.
Police gave chase but lost sight of him around the Orange Hall on Mall East.
The person driving was Toader and, upon searching the vehicle, officers discovered an angle grinder, two catalytic converters and various other tools.
It transpired the vehicle was uninsured and Toader, “was unable to furnish police with the details of the male who made off, claiming he didn’t know his name nor explained his relationship to him”.
He was also unable to produce his driving licence, or give a reasonable account for the equipment in the van.
Toader was arrested and a few hours later police located Dobrin hiding in an outbuilding at Mall East. He too was arrested.
The two men gave “very different accounts” in relation to what had occurred; Toader claimed the pair had not stopped at any property and that he had been unaware of the items in the van.
Meanwhile, Dobrin stated they had stopped to get water for the van. He admitted opening the door of a vehicle but then immediately closing it.
He claimed at first to have found the catalytic converters in a ditch but later stated he had bought them off a young boy for £30.
Representing Toader, defence barrister Conor Byrne claimed this incident took place “a short time” after his client’s arrival in Ireland and that his explanations were “rather light”.
He added that this defendant had remained in custody since the date of the offence as he had no address in this jurisdiction.
Defence barrister David McKeown, who represented Dobrin, stated this was a “very distasteful episode” but added that his client had “if not time served very close to it”.
District Judge Bernie Kelly commented that both defendants were entitled to credit for their lack of record and early plea.
Both men were sentenced to three months in prison for the jointly charged offences.
Toader was further disqualified from driving for a period of three months, with an immediate warrant made for a fine of £75.