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Lithuanian national sentenced following three high-value Tesco thefts

A Lithuanian national who was involved in a number of high-value thefts from Tesco stores across Northern Ireland has been handed a suspended sentence.

Paulius Pranciulis (29), of Benmore Court, Newry, was sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for two years, at Armagh Magistrates Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse.

He was charged with three counts of theft.

While Pranciulis appeared, the court heard his two co-defendants in the case were currently in an immigration centre in London, with their case to be heard the following week.

The charges were read to him and he was asked if he wished to be tried by jury or in the magistrates court. He opted for the latter option and pleaded guilty.

The court heard on December 3, last year, police were on patrol on Edward Street in Lurgan when they observed a van stopped at the side of the road. They spoke to the driver, who was the defendant.

The three men in the vehicle were recognised as persons from CCTV images that had been circulated in relation to thefts from Tesco stores.

In the afternoon of November 9, three men had entered Antrim Tesco, before leaving with items in a trolley valued at £200.

On November 14, at around 6:30pm, there was a report from the store detective at Dungannon Tesco that three men had left the store with a trolley full of goods valued at £1205.20.

Then, on November 16, the three men visited a Tesco store in Derry/Londonderry, walking out through the checkouts with goods valued at £642.80. They were recognised and pursued, leaving the trolley and making off in a van.

Gavyn Cairns BL, defending, told the court the defendant, who is a Lithuanian national, had remained in Northern Ireland to “face up to the responsibility” rather than flee the jurisdiction.

District Judge Anne Marshall, noting the defendants were “caught red-handed”, queried why Pranciulis was remaining in the country and not in the immigration centre like the other two defendants, to which she was told the authorities had taken a different view on him.

On passing sentence, Judge Marshall said: “These are serious matters and are very high value thefts.”

In the regards to the co-defendants, a solicitor stated they had been in the detention centre in London for five weeks and could not be deported until the case was dealt with.

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