Thought stolen champagne was a fizzy drink

A Roma national who stole two bottles of expensive champagne told the Portlaoise District Court that she thought the bottles only contained a soft fizzy drink.

A Roma national who stole two bottles of expensive champagne told the Portlaoise District Court that she thought the bottles only contained a soft fizzy drink.

Before last week’s district court was Steluta Muntean (21), with an address listed at 59 Abervale, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

She was charged with theft at Dunnes Stores, Mountmellick Road, Portlaoise, on April 11 this year.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that she entered the store at 1.30pm and took two bottles of champagne off the shelf, valued at €98, and left without paying. She was stopped by security staff and the property was recovered.

Insp Farrelly also revealed that the gardaí had concerns over the defendant’s date of birth and suspicions that the date was incorrect.

Defence was solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher.

Mr Meagher said his client was a single mother with three children who was a Roma national living in Ireland for years. The defendant had difficulties with her social welfare, he said.

“She didn’t realise they were bottles of champagne, she thought they were a fizzy drink, but she shouldn’t have taken them,” said Mr Meagher, adding that Muntean had expressed regret and apologised.

However, Judge Catherine Staines said she did not accept defence’s claim about fizzy drink, as Muntean had picked the most expensive champagne.

As Muntean had no previous convictions, Judge Staines fined her €100.