A South Yorkshire father on the run for two years after stealing hire cars to pay off gambling debts has been jailed.
Wieslaw Mirga, 38, of Sturton Road, Pitsmoor, failed to return three cars to two Sheffield hire companies – instead driving them to a Kent ferry port for transportation across Europe.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Mirga said he was instructed to do this to pay off £8,000 and if he did not his family ‘would be harmed’. The thief – who has convictions in Poland for robbery, battery, theft, fraud and ‘organised crime’ – launched a foul-mouthed tirade in Polish at Judge David Dixon as he was jailed or four years and three months.
Judge Dixon said: “You targeted these companies due to their vulnerability and you took their vehicles. They place a significant degree of trust and you have broken that trust.”
Kevin Jones, prosecuting, said Mirga failed to return a £20,000 Mercedes, a £14,000 Seat and a £15,000 Hyundai to the firms. He said: “He was not acquiring them for himself but he was asked to hire them in payment of a gambling debt that he had acquired some years before. The cars once hired were driven to Dover and placed on a ferry to France and the vehicles were handed over at the other side.”
Mirga, who admitted theft and fraud, was arrested but allowed to attend his mother’s funeral in Poland and did not return. Vanessa Saxton, defending, said Mirga feared the threats to harm his family would be carried out. She told the hearing: “He has shown genuine remorse for the impact on the hire company and for the impact on his family who attend court today.”