A THIEF has been jailed after a crime spree during which he stole a Hereford market stall holder's bank card and used it to buy KFC, as well as alcohol and cigarettes.

Gheorghe Muntean had taken a woman's purse with £220 in cash and her bank card, as well as taking £160 in cash and cheques from a tin at the Herdsman in Widemarsh Street, Hereford. He also stole a stove worth £1,500 from Radway Bridge Garden Centre.

Muntean has been jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to conspiring to steal from a person and theft from a shop. There were two more co-defendants charged with the same offences who failed to attend the hearing on December 20: Jessica Elena Armean, 26, and Robert Stan, 30.

The judge described their offences, which took place on August 2, as a "thieving spree".

Using the woman's bank card, the trio splurged on a KFC meal, spending £77 there, and on alcohol and cigarettes at the Commercial Road Texaco.

The prosecution said that they had been caught in an Audi car at KFC on CCTV moments before the payment was made. They were then arrested in the car in Rotherwas on August 4.

All three of those convicted are Romanian, and Armean and Stan are believed to have left the UK after pleading guilty. They were sentenced to six months in prison each, with warrants issued for their arrests.

Muntean, 54, is currently at HMP Hewell but may be moved to a jail in Romania by the Home Office. He had spent almost five months in remand ahead of his court appearance, and before this had been housed in Home Office accommodation.

Defending, Ed Middleton said that the offending came about because Muntean had been unable to find work in the UK, and had been stealing to support himself. He said he intended to move back to Romania.


The judge said he had to take into account that Muntean had 15 previous convictions in other European countries, with Denmark demanding that he never return there.

His Honour Judge James Burbidge KC said that Muntean was a "dishonest individual who engaged in brazen stealing". He added that he thought Muntean should go back to Romania when possible, "and stay there".

He said that a victim surcharge would also be drawn up as part of the sentence, for magistrates to collect.