Man receives suspended sentence for stealing €26,000

Judge says man a ‘vulnerable person’ and theft appears to be a ‘one-off’

The man stole money using a false bank card. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The man stole money using a false bank card. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

A man who stole over €26,000 using a false bank card after being approached following his losing money in a casino has received a fully suspended sentence.

Didzis Pujats (29) was driven from post office to post office so he could withdraw money from another person’s bank account using a falsely obtained bank card with which he was provided.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Pujats was identified following CCTV footage being aired on the RTÉ programme Crimecall.

Pujats of Upper Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to thefts at locations in Dublin on January 20, 2017. He has no previous convictions in this jurisdiction or in Latvia.

Detective Garda James Duffy told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that a man came to realise that a number of transactions had been carried out using his bank account which he was not responsible for and contacted Bank of Ireland.

Det Gda Duffy said a total of €26,481.72 had been stolen from his account, but that the bank made the man “whole again”.

Gardaí obtained CCTV footage from the various post offices were the fraudulent transactions took place. Photos from this footage were aired on Crimecall in 2018 and subsequent to this, gardaí were contacted by someone who said they knew where the accused lived.

In interview with gardaí following his arrest, Pujats admitted he had made 14 transactions in one day using fake identification and a falsely obtained bank card.

Pujats told gardaí he had a gambling problem and was approached by individuals after losing money in a casino. He said these people offered him an opportunity to make money, provided him with the instruments and drove him from place to place so he could make the transactions.

He told gardaí he might have received a €500 gift card or €1,000 in cash for taking part in the offence.

Det Gda Duffy agreed with Morgan Shelley BL, defending, that his client was “eager” to pay compensation and had a bank draft of €2,700 in court.

The Garda agreed with counsel that the men involved in the offence would wait outside while his client withdrew the money and then take the money from him afterwards.

Mr Shelley said his client was not wearing “a baseball cap or a fake beard” and had made no effort to conceal his identity when carrying out the transactions. He submitted that his client was the person who was “expendable” in the operation and who was taking all of the risk.

Counsel said his client’s employer has left him working in a “sensitive” area of the company despite knowing about these offences. He said this fact says more about his client than he could ever say.

Judge Melanie Greally said she would deal with the matter based on it being a “one off” situation which is incompatible with Pujats’ previous history.

Judge Greally said the accused was identified as being “a vulnerable person” who was worth approaching. She said he was “operating in plain sight” and taking all the risk.

She said there was nothing in his prior or subsequent history to suggest Pujats is a person who is by nature dishonest.

Judge Greally sentenced Pujats to three years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions. She also ordered that the bank draft be paid over to Bank of Ireland.