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Teen jailed for stealing wheelchair basketball veteran’s Olympic prizes

Ionut Majaru, jailed for burglary at Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Ionut Majaru, jailed for burglary at Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Archant

A teenager has been jailed for burgling the home of a wheelchair basketball veteran.

Ionut Majaru, 19, of Fore Street, Ipswich, was caught hiding in the shower of a flat in Granville Street with a stolen wristwatch belonging to former international athlete Kenny Mackay.

A stolen iPad and camera were never returned to their owner, who received the items as a gift for attending the Beijing Paralympic Games as a Wheelchair Basketball Federation classifier.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that a neighbour called police to report a group of males hanging around outside Mr Mackay’s vacant property at 7.50pm on March 9.

The witness reported seeing at least one enter through a front window and begin searching the property by torchlight.

Police forced their way into a locked bathroom to find Majaru behind a shower curtain with a juvenile co-defendant, holding a metal spike and a torch, and in possession of a stolen wristwatch.

CCTV showed a group of about six males hiding in an alleyway as Majaru broke into the flat, where he stole items including Mr Mackay’s iPad and camera, which prosecutors believed were passed outside to waiting accomplices.

Majaru told police some friends had been discussing attempts to burgle the property, where he felt persuaded to attend after one of the group made abusive comments about his family while holding a “large knife”.

He claimed one of his friends had opened the window, and that the watch was given to him as a gift by his uncle before the offence, which he admitted before magistrates on April 10.

He was remanded in custody until appearing at crown court on Monday, when he asked sentencing judge Rupert Overbury to take into account another burglary on the same day.

Solicitor Lyndon Davies said the stolen items were of relatively low value, despite their sentimental worth, and that little damage had been done to the property in the course of the raid.

He said Majaru could retain employment, return to living with family, and would comply with the rehabilitation and unpaid work requirements of a suspended custodial sentence.

But Judge Overbury said he would be “failing the public” by not sending him to prison.

Majaru will be detained for 18 months in a young offender institution, before spending a year on licence following his release.

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