A Romanian national has been denied bail after he appeared in court yesterday, accused of stealing a wallet from a man who was found dead near Derry’s City Walls last year.
Conall Kerrigan was discovered dead in August and it’s believed the 25-year-old fell from the Walls during the early hours of the morning following a night out.
Derry’s Magistrate’s Court heard allegations that 19-year-old Costica Munteanu was part of an “organised crime gang” operating in Derry and Belfast which targets “vulnerable victims.”
Munteanu, with an address in Tallaght, Dublin, is charged with robbery of Mr Kerrigan’s wallet on August 23rd.
The teen is further charged with the theft of iPhones from two women on August 22nd.
A defence barrister told the court that “it would seem there is nothing to link this incident, whether it is robbery or theft, with the unfortunate death of the injured party one to two hours later.”
The defendant’s family were in Derry’s Magistrate’s Court yesterday and the court heard how they were “not wealthy people but had gathered a surety of £1,500 from family and friends.”
The defence barrister also accepted that while the “court always has concerns when bailing to another jurisdiction” he asked District Judge Barney McElholm to “consider bail given that Munteanu has made full admissions to the offences.”
A PSNI officer said an investigation was launched by police following the disappearance of Mr Kerrigan.
CCTV was viewed as part of this investigation which showed Mr. Kerrigan being robbed by two males.
Two thefts were reported around the same time and it is alleged the CCTV made it “quite obvious” the same men were involved.
The officer told the court police in the area were unable to identify these men and stills from the footage were sent to the media.
He added that Gardai then provided police with the men’s identity.
Opposing bail, the officer said police were of the opinion that Munteanu would evade police contact and was concerned that they could not place any bail conditions to control his movement if he was bailed to another jurisdiction.
He also said police were not in receipt of the defendant’s passport and the second suspect in the case had already fled the country.
The officer said police in Belfast recognised the defendant because he had a history of pickpocketing and begging in the area and they have fears the 19-year-old will commit further offences.
Munteanu’s defence said his understanding was that police did have his defendant’s passport and stressed that “in terms of a flight risk, police would need to show more than the fact he is a foreign national, or that they reside in a foreign jurisdiction.”
Denying bail Judge McElholm said: “It is the belief of the PSNI that this man is part of an organised crime gang and it is believed one of his companions has already fled to Romania.
“And whilst a cash surety is available in the sum of £1,500, it is not, in my mind, sufficient to deter a flight risk. I could also not impose any bail conditions in Dublin and, therefore, conclude that the risk of flight is so serious that bail is refused.”
Munteanu was remanded in custody to appear in court via video link on March 31st.