Couple accused of theft alleged to have sent almost €9,000 abroad, court told

Accused refused bail after being charged with stealing from student at ATM in Cork

A couple transferred almost €9,000 in cash to bank accounts in Romania while claiming to be homeless in Ireland, it's been alleged by gardaí after the pair were charged with stealing cash from a student at an ATM in Cork

Romanians Gheorghe Marginica (29) and Michele Judele (30) of no fixed abode are both charged with stealing €60 from a student at an ATM on Patrick Street in Cork on March 27th and today at Cork District Court their solicitor, Daithí Ó Donnabháin said they would be contesting the charge.

When the couple were first charged earlier this week with the offence, gardaí objected to bail on the grounds that the couple failed to give them a home address in Ireland and claimed to be homeless while gardaí also said they believed that the couple would flee the jurisdiction if granted bail.

Objecting to bail, Det Garda Aoife Hayes of the Bridewell Garda station said that gardaí were also objecting to bail as they believed that the two accused had intimidated the injured party into handing over the money when they approached him at an ATM.


“The allegation is that they approached a student asking for money. He said he did not have change. They persisted. They asked him for €33 for a bus to Dublin. This boy complied from fear and intimidation. He gave them €40.

“They said they wanted to buy another ticket. He could only get €20 when he went back to the ATM. He said he complied out of fear and intimidation,” said Det Garda Hayes, adding that gardaí found evidence on Mr Marginica’s phone of significant money transfers in the past month or so.

“Initial assessment of his mobile phone shows a large amount of pictures of money receipts – 15 in total – sent back to his home country of Romania to a total of €8,800. And the money was transferred between February 17th, 2021, and March 24th, 2021.

“When asked where they got €8,800, that they had sent home, Mr Marginica and Ms Judele said they got it from people helping them. It is our belief they got it from circumstances similar to those alleged in the charge before the court.”

Det Garda Hayes said that gardaí found a key on Mr Marginica when he was arrested for questioning about the alleged theft and gardaí believed it was for some address but that the defendant was not disclosing the address and claimed to be homeless in Cork.

She said gardaí had checked with the Simon Community in Cork and found that they had determined that Mr Marginica was not in need of accommodation from Simon and they could not find any indication of him sleeping on the streets.

“I believe he has an address which he has not provided. He has a key in his property. He has not told us where that key is for. He is stating he is homeless. Simon’s night services have not come across him,” said Det Garda Hayes.

Mr Marginica disputed Det Garda Hayes’s contention that he was not homeless and told the court that “I sleep in front of the church” which gardaí took to mean he was sleeping in front of St Mary’s Church on Pope’s Quay but they could find no evidence to link him to the place.

Det Garda Hayes said that Ms Judele had similarly refused to give gardaí any address even though there was a key in their possession and she also refused to say where the key was from. Gardaí could not find any evidence to support her contention that she was sleeping on the streets.

“She has again failed to give an address . . . she is saying she is homeless but she has no belongings on her. Simon Community assessed her as not in need of homeless services. There is evidence of wealth on her mobile phone which she shares with her husband.”

Not working

Asked about the money, Ms Judele told the court through an interpreter that they were sending the money home to her husband’s mother in Romania for their family while she also confirmed they were not working and were not in receipt of any social welfare.

Mr Ó Donnabháin said Mr Marginica and Ms Judele had given names consistent with the names as shown on their passport/national identification papers and were willing to undertake to show up for their case if granted bail.

Judge Olann Kelleher refused bail and remanded both to appear at Cork District Court to see if any progress could be made in identifying where the couple lived. Mr Ó Donnabháin said that no progress had been made in establishing if they had a home in Ireland.

Sgt John Kelleher said gardaí were seeking an adjournment in order to obtain the DPP's directions in the matter and the judge remanded both accused in continuing custody to appear again in court on April 14th with a view to fixing an early date for hearing the case.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times