Lengthy sentence for member of 'sophisticated' gang that operated in Limerick

Lithuanian national Aurimas Petraska jailed for five and-half-years

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Lengthy sentence for member of 'sophisticated' gang that operated in Limerick

Aurimas Petraska was jailed for five and-half-years

A MEMBER of a sophisticated gang which operated with almost military precision has been jailed for five and-half-years for his role in a spate of burglaries across Munster.

Details of the gang’s modus operandi emerged last month during the sentencing hearing of Lithuanian national Aurimas Petraska who pleaded guilty to multiple charges relating to offences in three different counties on dates during 2015 and 2016.

The only offence which happened in Limerick was the theft of stock, with a retail value of €240,000 from Isobels, Main Street, Adare, on June 21, 2016.

The other offences occurred at locations in Cahir, County Tipperary, and at three separate locations in County Cork.

Detective Garda Michael Brosnan said a major garda investigation was launched into the activities of the gang early last year following a number of similar crimes during which large quantities of goods were taken.

“It was a very heavily resourced investigation,” said the detective who confirmed that district, divisional and national units were all utilised.

Inquiries were also made through Interpol and Europol as part of the “painstaking” investigation. The gang operated with military precision, he said, explaining that CCTV footage obtained by gardai shows they wore black fatigues, gloves and “head lights”.

Members of the gang, he said, can also be seen on the footage “checking their watches at regular intervals” as they timed each burglary to perfection.

“They were highly sophisticated, (they were) in and out in six minutes,” he told Michael Collins BL, prosecuting.

In a victim impact statement, which was read to the court, prominent County Limerick businesswoman, Kay Mulcair, revealed how she nearly lost her business following the break-in.

She said her insurance company had refused to pay out as the alarm was not activated and that her personal life had also been affected.

“As a result of the crime I suffered pressure on my family due to the near collapse of my business,” she said adding that she is nervous and fearful when opening and closing the boutique as she feels she is being watched.

Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell noted that the consequences of the burglaries had been very serious – both personally and financially – for Ms Mulcair and the other businesspeople whose premises were targeted.

He said the premeditated nature of offences and the ‘vetting’ of each premises was an aggravating factor while his admissions and guilty plea were mitigating factors.

 The judge noted that Petreska (32) was paid €2,000 per job and that he has family in his native country.

He imposed a seven year prison sentence, suspending the final 18 months.