FIVE Romanian nationals were brought before Cork District Court to face begging charges as the judge warned them that any future repeat offences could end in jail.
One of the men challenged a €1,110 invoice for return flights to visit Cork for himself and five others. He said he had only paid €185 for his ticket.
A Romanian translator was sworn in to assist with all five cases at Cork District Court where solicitors, Dennis Healy and Eddie Burke, were appointed to represent the accused on free legal aid.
One of the men pleaded guilty to three counts of begging within two days.
Judge Olann Kelleher gave this man — 23-year-old Grigoie Feraru of no fixed address — the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act on the first count, a €150 fine on the second and a suspended one-month sentence on the third.
Inspector Vincent O’Sullivan said Feraru was caught obstructing pedestrians by begging at South Mall and Shandon Bridge on November 24 and at St Peter and Paul’s Place the following day.
Sergeant Alan Cronin said this man had the invoice for €1,110 for flights for himself and five colleagues from Romania to Cork and to return to Romania.
He said it was cheaper to book as a group, but that he had only paid €185, as had each of the others.
Feraru had no explanation for why his name was on the invoice.
Others before the court had been in Ireland for longer and some of them intended to stay.
Mr Healy, solicitor, said there was nothing for them at home and that they were hoping to get into car washing businesses here which he said was becoming something of a trend at the moment.
Three defendants facing one charge with no previous convictions were given the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.
Manex Covacio, of Springview Terrace, Commons Road, was fined €150 for his second begging conviction on Nano Nagle Bridge on November 28.