Romanian gang accused of burglary in Belfast

Court hears five-strong group travelled to the North from Dublin to carry out crime

The judge refused bail, saying the defendants could flee the jurisdiction and not return for later trial hearings.

The judge refused bail, saying the defendants could flee the jurisdiction and not return for later trial hearings.

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 13:55

An alleged five strong Romanian “organised crime gang” from Dublin appeared in court today accused of a £660 (€822) distraction burglary at a Belfast shop.

All five, sisters Narghita Serdaru (36) and Christina Serdaru (37), Danusia Poenaru, also 37, and two teenagers, Bogdan Miclescu (19) and a 15-year-old who cannot be identified because of his age, were charged with burglary at Greenways newsagents on the Stewartstown Road in west Belfast last Thursday, August 14th, where they stole £660.

A constable today told Belfast Magistrates Court he believed he could connect all five to the charge.

Describing the defendants as an “organised crime gang,” constable Miney said police believed they had travelled up from the Republic “with the intent of carrying out this offence”.

He described how CCTV within the shop had captured how all the defendants had gone into the shop and played different roles — Ms Poenaru and Christina Serdaru went into the storeroom, Mr Miclescu went off to the side of the counter to block the owners view while Narghita Serdaru and the 15-year-old distracted his attention away.

“He knew something was wrong,” said constable Miney, adding that he shouted for his niece to help and went to the back of the shop to investigate but was pushed back by one of the women.

The five fled from the premises and jumped into a silver Vauxhall Astra which sped away. Not knowing the area, the defendants first drove into a dead end street and had to turn around and drive past their alleged victim who noted the registration and that the three women in the back were all “lying down”.

Police in Banbridge stopped the car and at about 5pm and arrested all five.

Constable Miney said it was clear the gang were making a “break for the border”, that officers noticed the women had all changed their clothing and that when searched, the stolen cash was uncovered in Ms Poenaru’s bra.

During police interviews Ms Poenaru, from the Whitehorn Road in Dublin, refused to answer questions while Christina Serdaru, from the Thomas Moore Road, claimed she was in Belfast looking for cheap school uniforms.

Constable Miney said that apart from the mistake of driving into a cul de sac, the gang had been well organised and each had played their respective roles, adding that police were objecting to their release on bail amid fears they would flee.

With the exception of the 15-year-old boy, District Judge Amanda Henderson said the “risk of flight is a strong concern”.

“I have no doubt that this is an organised crime gang and I have no doubt that if they went back to Dublin, we would never see them again,” said the judge.

Narghita Serdaru, from Gracefield Road and Miclescu, also with an address on the Thomas Moore Road, Christina Serdaru and Ms Poenaru, who was going to plead guilty but the PPS said they could not take a plea today, were all remanded into custody to appear again on 26 August.

The boy’s father meanwhile ran from the court in an effort to withdraw the £950 (€1,180) cash surety the judge ordered must be lodged with the court before his release.