'Ringleader' of €20k robbery let out of jail early

'Ringleader' of €20k robbery let out of jail early

The "ringleader" of a jewellery store robbery, from a business which later had to be wound down, has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Moise Rostas (25), with an address at Oldbridge Court, Lucan, Co Dublin, had pleaded guilty at Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €20,000 worth of jewellery from McGuigan's Jewellers, Main Street, Castleblayney on December 28, 2012.

He was sentenced to three years imprisonment by Judge John O'Hagan on January 19, 2016.

Rostas successfully appealed his sentence today, with the Court of Appeal suspending the final nine months on condition he pay €5,000 compensation to the injured party.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Rostas was one of four individuals, including a female, who entered the jewellers on the date in question while an employee was in a back room.

The female intruder distracted a customer while the other gang members took the jewellery. They then left in a car, details of which were relayed to gardai by a local taxi driver, Mr Justice Mahon said.

Rostas was one of two individuals prosecuted for the offence. The jewellery has never been recovered and had been uninsured due to an earlier claim, the judge said.

Following the robbery, Mr McGuigan wound down the business and left the jurisdiction, Mr Justice Mahon said.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Orla Crowe BL, said Rostas was the "ringleader" who had taken the tray of jewellery.

His barrister, Damien Colgan SC, submitted that the sentencing judge erred in proceeding on the basis that Mr McGuigan and his employee were present at the time and aware that the theft was being carried out.

Mr Justice Mahon said the sentencing judge referred to Mr McGuigan and his staff member as being "terrified", and he did so in a manner which suggested they were present when they had not.

Had they been present and aware of the crime, use of the word "terrified" would have been apt and a sentence of three years or more would have been justified.

However, the basis upon which sentence was imposed – that the shopowner and staff member were present – was an error in principle, in the court's view, Mr Justice Mahon said.

Even if the judge did not intend to convey the impression that they were present, Rostas was left with the impression that such was the case, Mr Justice Mahon said.

The most compelling mitigating factor was Rostas' complete lack of previous convictions. His rehabilitation was already under way, as was evidenced by his enhanced prisoner status. There was good reason to believe his rehabilitation would continue, the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the court would resentence Rostas to three years imprisonment with the final nine months suspended.

He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for two years post release on condition he pay €5,000 to the State solicitor for onward transmission to the injured party.

After lunch, several supporters of Rostas produced an envelope of cash which was counted in court.

Ruaidhrí Giblin