Burglar took bus to the scene on “promise of working in a circus”


A “naive” burglar who took a bus to the scene on the “promise of working in a circus” according to his barrister has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Moldovan national Vasile Stratan (35), with an address in Dublin, had pleaded guilty at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at a home in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary on September 26 2013.

He was sentenced to six years imprisonment by Judge Thomas Teehan on March 13 2014.

Stratan had only been in the country four days when, on the “promise of working in a circus” he took a bus to Tipperary where it became clear he was “casing houses”, his barrister, Pauline Walley told the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Ms Walley said Stratan was naive, was not the organiser and was swept up by events.

She submitted that the sentencing judge failed to take account of his guilty plea, lack of previous convictions, his health issues and his status in prison as a non-national with no English at all.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said it was “altogether an extremely frightening situation” for the occupants of the home. It left them with admittedly minor injuries but with major psychological consequences.

Mr Justice Ryan said there was no reason to disagree with the judge's assessment of the crime or sentence.

However the judge erred in failing to give sufficient weight to Stratan's lack of previous convictions, the fact he was not the ringleader and that the prosecution accepted a lesser plea.

In particular, Mr Justice Ryan said the judge failed to take account of the extra difficulty, strain and unpleasantness of prison life for someone whose language skills are inadequate.

“With some reluctance,” Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the court would suspend the final 18 months of the sentence.