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Couple that stole from church charity box avoid prison

by Sophie Drew

A married couple that stole from a church charity box in Derry have been spared jail.

Florea Manolescu, 42, and Mariana Zamfir, 40 were caught via CCTV footage.

The crime was described as a “serious case of theft” from a charity that “deals with the poorest in society,” but it was impossible to know exactly how much of the recovered funds came from the charity box.

Police recovered £430, $100 (£80) and €100 (£88) from the couple, but Manolescu claims he only took an envelope from the top of the box, which contained £15.

After CCTV footage caught Manolescu using a probe to steal the money, police were able to decipher his car and number plate.

The vehicle was then found at a bed and breakfast near to the church.

The theft was reported by Father Michael McCaughey on Tuesday, 25th of April, at 4.30pm.

The couple were visiting family and told the court they planned to return home to Romania the following week.

Manolescu admitted to the crime, and confirmed he was both the owner of the vehicle, and the man that appeared in the CCTV footage.

Zamfir said her husband did not share the money with her, but she did act as a lookout, the judge ruled.

The recovered money is to be given to the charity, St Vincent De Paul.

The charity – which recently celebrated it’s 190th anniversary – describes itself as “dedicated to tackling poverty in all its forms by providing practical assistance to those in need.”

Manolescu was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years, while Zamfir was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for two years.

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