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Deported criminal came back to UK 13 times before arrest at Sainsbury’s in Warren Heath, Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 16:24 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:51 12 July 2017

Gabriel Dragut was arrested at Sainsbury's, in Warren Heath, Ipswich.

Gabriel Dragut was arrested at Sainsbury's, in Warren Heath, Ipswich.

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A Romanian criminal who was deported five years ago after being jailed for fraud travelled back to Britain 13 times before being arrested for stealing an 81-year-old woman’s purse in an Ipswich supermarket car park, a court has heard.

Gabriel Dragut, who has been jailed for 10 months.   Picture: SUFFOLK POLICEGabriel Dragut, who has been jailed for 10 months. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Gabriel Dragut was detained by security staff at Sainsbury’s superstore at Warren Heath on May 9 this year after he and another man were seen on CCTV stealing the woman’s purse after distracting her, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Dragut, 28, of Mersea Road, Colchester, admitted theft and was jailed for ten months today, July 12.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, told the court that in May 2012 Dragut was jailed for two years at Teeside Crown Court for fraud relating to the fitting of card skimming devices on ATMs.

After serving just four months of the sentence he was deported back to Romania on September 11.

“Records suggest that since the deportation he has returned to the UK 13 times and Border Force can’t say why that was allowed to happen,” said Mr Crimp.

He said that in addition to the 2012 conviction for fraud, Dragut had been convicted in November last year of having articles for use in fraud which also related to ATM card skimming devices.

The court heard the victim of the theft in May this year was putting her shopping into her car when she was approached by Dragut, who asked for directions to the nearest hospital.

While she was assisting him another man, who was never caught, stole her purse from her handbag and she only realised it was missing when she got to another store.

In a victim impact statement read to the court the victim said she was left feeling “dreadful”.

She said the shock of the offence had left her feeling shattered and affected her confidence in going out shopping on her own.

Sentencing Dragut, Judge Rupert Overbury described the offence as “mean and unpleasant and said the elderly victim had been deliberately targeted.

Peter Spary, for Dragut, said when his client was deported in 2012 he had received a call from the Home Office and a ticket, but had not been asked to sign anything.

“He didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to come back,” said Mr Spary.

“He came back to the UK regularly and there were no problems at the borders,” he added.

He told the court Dragut’s wife worked at a hotel in Colchester and he had lost his job in a factory shortly before the offence in May.

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