A JUDGE has jailed two Romanian gipsies for four years each after hearing they targeted two pensioners in Yorkshire, robbing one and trying to steal from the other after distracting them.
Sentencing Maria Bodescu and Vasilica Alexandru at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, Judge Kerry Macgill said he was satisfied they were part of an organised gang who travelled to the area in search of vulnerable victims.
The court heard that on the morning of October 11, last year the Romany duo were driven from Bedfordshire to Leeds by a man in a Mercedes car.
They managed to steal a gold pendant from one victim, having failed in an earlier attempt on another, but were arrested in Kent after witnesses passed their car number to police. Mathhew Harding, prosecuting, said the pair first struck at 9.45am in Strathmore Avenue, Harehills, asking a 76-year-old woman for directions to the hospital saying they needed to get there because one of their mothers had suffered a heart attack.
Bodescu then thanked her and tried to put a chain around her neck. The pensioner was suspicious when she saw the other woman looking round and started to scream which caused the duo to run off and jump into a black car nearby which was driven off.
Half an hour later and less than a mile away they approached an 85-year-old woman walking up the path to Chapeltown Medical Centre in Spencer Place with a similar story, said Mr Harding.
She was asked for directions to the hospital and as she gave them one of the women opened her hand and tried to place some gold coloured jewellery in it. The pensioner told them she did not want it but one of the women said “my mum is ill with her heart. This is from God so you can pray for her.”
She repeated she did not want the jewellery, saying she would pray anyway, but one of the women then grabbed her gold pendant before the pair made off. It had huge sentimental value to her and was not recovered. The victim said she believed the other woman tried to get her rings off as well but could not do so.
The pensioner shouted for help and witness Darrell McLean gave chase. It was he who passed on the car number, leading to the Mercedes later being stopped at Dartford in Kent. Another witness, Amber Beech, who went to the victim’s aid, later helped to identify the robbers. Both were awarded £250 for their public- spirited actions.
Bodescu, 37 a mother-of-four and Alexandru, 41, a mother-of-six, both from Luton, each admitted attempt theft and robbery and apologised through counsel for their actions after failing to make money selling “tat” jewellery.
Judge Macgill told the pair the sentences had to deter others from such crimes on the elderly.