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Dress to the wines Shoplifter (21) who hid 15 booze bottles under traditional dress claims 'discrimination'

"Even three bottles is very heavy. You cannot take that many. You are not a robot. You cannot do it. It's impossible."

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Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline by concealing them under their traditional skirts.

Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline by concealing them under their traditional skirts.

Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and Prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline

Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and Prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline

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Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline by concealing them under their traditional skirts.

A woman convicted of stealing so many bottles of alcohol from an off-licence she "had to waddle out the door" has claimed she is the victim of 'discrimination.'

Mum-of-three Julie Muntean (21), who moved to Ireland from Romania 20 years ago, also claimed 'you would have to be a robot' to stage a getaway with 15 bottles of stolen champagne, Prosecco and wine hidden inside a traditional Romanian dress.

"How can a person take that many?" she asked, speaking with the Sunday World after her conviction at Cork District Court earlier this week.

"Even three bottles is very heavy. You cannot take that many. You are not a robot. You cannot do it. It's impossible."

On Tuesday, Muntean and her male cousin Vasile Munteanu were both convicted of theft arising from a mammoth €1,335 distraction heist from O'Donovan's off-licence on Cork Road in Carrigaline.

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Julie Muntean speaks with SW's Patrick O' Connell

Julie Muntean speaks with SW's Patrick O' Connell

Julie Muntean speaks with SW's Patrick O' Connell

Cork District Court heard Julie and another woman carried out the theft of 30 bottles of alcohol and cigarettes while Vasile distracted the shop owner by buying items, including condoms, while inside the off-licence.

Referring to CCTV from inside the store, Garda Caroline Horgan said: "They have so much stuff they nearly fell over. One lady stumbles and catches on to something. It [the volume of stolen bottles] causes both of them to waddle."

Garda Horgan told the court that: "All three were acting in concert."

Despite her conviction, Julie continued to protest her innocence when the Sunday World called to her home in Mitchelstown the day after the case was heard. And she denied that the CCTV shown in court had recorded her in the act of stealing.

"They said in the shop I took cigarettes and alcohol. The CCTV doesn't show that," she said.

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Julie Muntean

Julie Muntean

Julie Muntean

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"The CCTV only shows that I am sitting beside the fridge and taking the stuff and putting it down … but not taking the stuff. It doesn't show me taking the stuff outside the shop.

"Why should I say I took it when I didn't take it? I'm in this country 20 years and I have never had any cases like this or any history and now they are saying I did this.

"When the guards came to my home and said about this case and said I have stolen, I said 'no I didn't'.

"The woman that was with me, I don't know what she did, but I didn't steal. And I didn't do what they were saying."

In her outline of the circumstances of the case to Cork District Court, Garda Horgan said Vasile Munteanu had entered the store first and distracted a staff member.

It was later established, she told the court, that the two women stole 30 bottles between them and were probably carrying 15 bottles each, concealed inside their skirts.

Solicitor for the accused, Dennis Healy, said his clients were pleading not guilty but would not be giving evidence.

Judge Olann Kelleher said: "I am totally satisfied it was a joint enterprise. I have no hesitation convicting."

Mr Healy said Julie Muntean and Vasile Munteanu, both with an address at Clonmel Road, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, were "pawns in a bigger game."

"It was orchestrated by another person," he said.

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Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and Prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline

Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and Prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline

Julie Muntean was one of two women who stole 30 bottles of champagne and Prosecco between them from O' Donovan's off licence in Carrigaline

He said that Julie Muntean was "completely coerced" on this occasion and had no previous convictions.

Judge Kelleher said he would direct a probation report on Julie.

However, he imposed a six-month jail term on Vasile Munteanu, noting that he had two previous theft convictions saying: "It was an organised crime - a joint enterprise."

The second woman referred to in evidence was not before the court.

Julie told the Sunday World she was not maintaining the defence of 'coercion.'

"No, no, nothing like that," she said - before insisting again that she was not guilty.

"I know there are lots of Romanians in Cork, and in this country, and they are doing trouble, but we are in this country for 20 years now and we didn't have any trouble.

"I have three kids. The oldest one is seven and I'm pregnant as well. So why would I think of doing this?

"I am [worried about going to jail] because my cousin (Vasile) has already been put in jail and for what? For nothing. If I wasn't Romanian this wouldn't happen. I understand there are lots of Romanians giving trouble but that doesn't mean all Romanians are bad.

"You cannot treat us all the same."

"And how is it possible to take that amount - €1,300 worth of bottles?

"How can a person take that many?

"Even three bottles is very heavy. You cannot take that many. You are not a robot. You cannot do it. It's impossible.

"It is not too easy to do that. It's a bit hard, 30 bottles to take it and the guy in the shop doesn't see it, how is it possible?"

Julie Muntean's sentencing has been adjourned until December to allow for the preparation of the Probation report.

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