A ROMANIAN, who travelled to St Helens specifically to go on a shoplifting spree, appeared before magistrates days before returning to Bucharest.

Standing in the dock at St Helens Magistrates' Court, Stefan Catalin pleaded guilty to stealing almost £600 worth of computer games from Tesco Extra on the linkway on Wednesday, January 23.

The 22-year-old was on a week-long trip to the UK, visiting relatives in Birmingham, where he met a man who suggested travelling to St Helens to steal.

Armed with a foil-lined laptop case, he entered the store along with another man.

A member of the public alerted security telling them that he had taken the items, but Catalin was already under surveillance.

He left the store and was heading across the car park before police were called.

The two men were stopped on Milverny Way and Catalin admitted stealing the games.

Prosecutor Angela Blackmore explained that under police interview, he made no comment about the other man. She said he didn’t know his name.

Mrs Blackmore added: “He indicated that back in Birmingham, he would be paid £10 per game. This was the first time he had done anything like this and he was sorry. He had no previous convictions in this country.”

Rob Haygarth, defending, said: “He lives with his father and grandparents in Bucharest and travelled to England on January 18 to stay with his uncle.

“He was working in Romania until just after New Year and got a chance to spend a week with his family. He was scheduled to return on January 26.”

Magistrates fined him £120 in total, but because he had spent the previous night in custody, it would not have to be paid.