Women remanded in custody over theft from pensioner

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

Two Romanian women with addresses in the Letterkenny area have been remanded in custody charged with the theft of money from an 86-year-old pensioner.

Terca Rosa (23) of Mill Road in Letterkenny and Lamita Mhai (21) of 3, Mill Road in Newtowncunningham both in Donegal appeared at Derry Magistrate’s Court today charged with the theft of £140 in Derry on March 20.

A police officer connected the two to the charges and opposed bail.

She told the court that the 86-year-old woman contacted police to say that while in the Tesco car park at Lisnagelvin and had been approached by the two women.

She told police Mhai had asked for change and then Rosta had distracted the pensioner while Mhai had rummaged through her purse.

On reaching home the woman discovered that £140 was missing.

A description of the pair was circulated.

Then on March 22 the pensioner contacted police again to say she had seen the two women in the vicinity of St. Columb’s Cathedral asking her 94-year-old friend for change.

Both women were arrested.

The court was also heard that there was an outstanding arrest warrant from 2013 from Newry Court for Mhai on theft charges.

At interview both women denied the theft charges. They claimed that the pensioner outside the Cathedral had just given them money.

The police officer said that in 2013 Mhai had been convicted of a similar offence and given a suspended sentence.

She opposed bail on the grounds that neither had any ties to the North and police believed they would flee.

Defence solicitor Mr. Paddy MacDermott said that there was no bail application for Rosta as she had no address or surety.

He said as regards Mhai her father had sent cash from England that could be used for surety.

He added that Mhai was nine months pregnant and wanted to return to her family.

District Judge Barney McElholm said that this appeared to be a premeditated planned operation targeting vulnerable people.

He said that he was ‘absolutely confident’ that the pair would not turn up if released.

He refused bail and remanded both women in custody to appear again on April 9.