opportunistic | 

Thief stole OAP’s pension from post office counter, court told

Mateusz Leja of Cruise Park Drive, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, was ordered to do community service

Eimear Cotter

An opportunistic thief made off with an elderly man’s pension he set it down on a post office counter, a court heard.

Mateusz Leja (33) had no better explanation for what he had done other than he “saw the money”.

Judge David McHugh ordered Leja to complete 240 hours community service in lieu of six months in prison.

The defendant, of Cruise Park Drive, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, admitted stealing €243 from a pensioner at Mulhuddart post office on June 8 last year.

Sergeant Maria Callaghan told Blanchardstown District Court that the victim, who is in his mid-70s, collected his €243 pension in the post office. When he returned home he realised the money was not in his pocket.

Sgt Callaghan said gardaí viewed CCTV footage, which showed Leja standing beside the victim.

The man put his pension on the court and Leja reached over, picked it up and put the money in his pocket, before walking out of the post office.

Sgt Callaghan said Leja was identified by gardaí and was later arrested and charged.

The court heard that Leja had 19 previous convictions, but hadn’t been in trouble for over seven years.

Defence solicitor Kelly Breen said Leja was very sorry for his behaviour, and had €300 compensation in court.

“Is he sorry because he is sorry or sorry because he was caught”, asked Judge McHugh.

Ms Breen said Leja admitted during garda interviews what he had done, and made no attempt to hide his behaviour.

She said Leja had no better explanation for what he had done other than he had seen the money and taken it. It was a completely opportunistic crime, she added.

Leja intended to repay the money, Ms Breen said.

The court heard Leja worked as a landscaper, was in a long-term relationship and had lived in Ireland since 2014.

Leja accepted the theft was “very unpleasant” and “nasty”.

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