One of three men who walked out of Asda with a shopping trolley loaded with over £300 worth of goods has been warned he is coming close to being “sent back home” to Lithuania.
The warning was given to Egidijus Malinauskas, of Ballyoran Park, Portadown, who pleaded guilty to theft at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
The court heard that, on May 13 last year, police were called to Asda in Portadown, after reports of three men pushing a trolley load of goods from the store.
The total value of the items was £313.17, with all being recovered and found fit for resale.
All three men made off but Malinauskas was later recognised when he returned to the store.
Court was told this had been an organised operation with one man pushing the trolley while the others, with baskets, filled it.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said he understood that the judge would “take a dim view of the case”.
He insisted that CCTV showed that Malinauskas had not been filling the trolley but had been there as a “distraction”.
It was also revealed that the defendant had divulged during probation meetings that on the day in question he had stolen alcohol using a backpack from the store which was never recovered.
Mr Thompson insisted that this “gave some explanation to the incident as Malinauskas was intoxicated at the time”.
Court also heard that the defendant had recently lost employment due to an “injury to his kneecap”.
Defence said Malinauskas had been part of a “joint enterprise” and came before the court with “not the worst record or the most prolific”.
The court learned that the defendant was originally from Lithuania and this was his second serious theft charge.
District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “This was a planned operation and a very serious matter.”
And she warned the defendant: “The only thing that heartens me is that if you come back for anything similar you will be deported.”
Malinauskas was sentenced to complete a combination order consisting of 80 hours community service and 12 months probation.
District Judge Kelly told him: “There is only so much we can take before we send you home.”
“In short, you are an alcoholic and if you don’t do something about it you will continue to offend,” she added.