Organised gang stole phones from fans at Portsmouth music gig

Attacker followed his victim for a mile before assault in city alleyway

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MEMBERS of an organised gang of Romanian criminals have been jailed for stealing mobile phones from people at a gig.

The group targeted revellers at a Chase and Status concert at Portsmouth’s Guildhall.

In all 23 mobile phones, including iPhones and BlackBerry phones, were taken.

Lucian Cornea, Alin Abrahamescu, Ion Drutu, Marian Nicolae, Daniel Bilea and Constantin-Ciprian Tarnarutchi all travelled to Portsmouth from Ilford, in Essex.

Their plan was to steal as many phones as possible.

Some of the gang members wore leggings under their trousers so that they could hide the stolen mobile phones.

The group was stopped and searched after undercover officers spotted them going back and forth from the gig to two cars.

Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘You were all part of an organised gang and it may well be that some of you actually came into the country for the purposes of pursuing these offences.

‘These were high value thefts.

‘Twenty-three telephones were stolen at this single event and the majority, one suspects, would have been down to you.

‘This was a fairly sophisticated operation with clothing being adapted to facilitate the thefts.

‘There’s no doubt that you targeted persons who were going to this concert.

‘It’s necessary for a significant deterrent sentence to be imposed to discourage other organised crime gangs from acting in this way.’

The six, who are all of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Drutu, Nicolae and Constantin-Ciprian Tarnarutchi were jailed for two years, while Abrahamescu was given 21 months.

Cornea and Bilea were sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders’ institute.

Nicolae, Bilea, Drutu and Tarnarutchi all have convictions for offences including robbery and theft in Romania and the UK.

The judge added: ‘It’s no longer possible for me to recommend your deportation.

‘Bearing in mind you have each received a sentence in excess of 12 months I assume and trust the Home Office upon your release will organise your immediate deportation back to Romania.

‘Your continued presence in this country is clearly not conducive to the public good.’

Terence Brookes, defending, said the men had families back in Romania who they had to support financially.

Police recovered six of the phones when the group was arrested, just before 11pm on October 11.