Suspended sentence for Enniskillen street begger

A ROMANIAN man has been given a suspended prison sentence for street begging at the weekend, and has been ordered to forfeit £100 he collected.
Maraus Virlan (35), whose address was given as no fixed abode, Enniskillen, was arrested on Sunday after being caught breaching the Vagrancy Act by begging in Omagh. He was also charged with entering the UK illegally, in breach of a deportation order that had been issued in May 2018.
Virlan, who pleaded guilty to both charges, was brought before Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday, where a police officer said he had already been warned about begging in Enniskillen the week before.
At around 4pm on Sunday, December 19 police on patrol in Omagh town centre encountered Virlan outside The Perfume Shop on High Street.
They heard him asking members of the public for money, and noted he had a sign saying “Merry Christmas, please help.”
A police officer told the court Virlan, who was aided in court by a Romanian interpreter, had been warned previously about begging, but had persisted. He was arrested at approximately 4.15pm.
The officer asked that £205 seized from Virlan at the weekend be forfeited to the court. However, defence barrister Gary Black noted that £100 of this had been in coins that had been collected, and the remaining £105 in notes had been his own funds.
In response officer said police had previously offered Virlan accommodation at the Silver Birch Hotel in Omagh, which he had turned down.
District Judge Steven Keown agreed to order Virlan to forfeit only £100 of the money seized, telling the officer that if he was suggesting the defendant was “flushed with cash” he was “not buying it.”
With regard Virlan’s background, Mr Black said the defendant had traveled to Ireland via Dublin in September this year and had been working, but that work had ended, and he had traveled up to Enniskillen.
Mr Black said Virlan’s partner was still in the locality, and that they had children back in Romania. He added the defendant had already bought a return ticked back to his home country.
When the solicitor asked the court to “leave something hanging over his head”, District Judge Steven Keown said sending him to prison could allow time for his deportation paper work to be completed. Mr Black said he could be held instead at the immigration removal centre in Larne.
Judge Keown sentenced Virlan to a total of two months in prison, suspended for one year.

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