Designer coats thief spared jail term

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A thief who targeted a Belfast store for designer coats within days of arriving in Northern Ireland has avoided jail.

Polemis Octavian’s six-month prison term was suspended after a judge heard his failed attempts to find work resulted in him sleeping on the streets.

The 30-year-old Romanian national stole five Ralph Lauren jackets valued at £589 from a TK Maxx branch in the city on Wednesday.

He put the coats inside a foil-lined rucksack in a bid to avoid detection, only to be detained on exiting the store.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates’ Court, Octavian pleaded guilty to charges of theft and going equipped for theft.

His barrister said the accused, with an address at Newbridge Hill in Bath, travelled to Northern Ireland earlier this week after being told of car washing job opportunities for Romanian nationals.

“He found himself sleeping on the streets when he couldn’t find work here,” counsel said.

“His intention was to take the jackets and sell them on to get money to return to England.”

District Judge White responded that stealing designer coats was not the answer.

He also commented: “It was a planned outing with a foil-lined bag to steal clothes worth a lot of money.”

But based on Octavian’s previous clear record, the judge decided to suspend the six-month jail term for two years.

With the defendant said to have no income, the court was told he will now be relying on friends to get him back to Bath.