A court heard today that a Lithuanian male, Mr Tomas Mikalajunas, was accidentally shot in the face and seriously injured by armed Gardaí, when they intercepted an international burglary gang, at a checkpoint between Ardagh and Shanagolden, Co Limerick, on June 28th 2016 last.
Mr Aurimas Petraska, a Lithuanian man, aged 32, with addresses at Kaunas, Lithuania, and Church Street, Rathkeale, Co Limerick; also, a known associate of the wounded man, today pleaded guilty to a string of major burglaries, involving the theft of €150,000 of women’s clothes and ‘Chanel’ beauty products, from pharmacies across the province of Munster.
While Mr Petraska was the only member of the gang to be charged; Mr Michael Collins prosecuting, informed Limerick Circuit Court, of the gang’s precision, military style operations. Dressed in black fatigues and wearing head lights, this gang were observed on CCTV footage inside the premises they were looting; checking their watches, as they limited themselves to strictly a 6 minute operation.
Amongst the premises raided and ransacked were O’Briens Pharmacy, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, where €20,000 worth of Chanel products was stolen, together with products from two other premises; one situated in Co. Cork and one in Co. Limerick.
Mr Petraska admitted using cheap cars fitted out with cement blocks, which were used as battering rams to gain access through the fronts of these business premises.
Mr Justice Tom O’Donnell today, praised highly, members of Cork Division Gardaí, led by Det. Insp. Joe Moore; Det. Gda. Michael Brosnan, and Det. Gda. Ailish Murphy, for their professionalism in tracking the gang over a two-year period, which involved the use of both Europol and Interpol resources.
Mr Petraska, who pleaded guilty to the charges, had his sentencing adjourned to May 5th 2017 next.