A WOMAN who, along with her partner, targeted and followed an elderly woman to steal her credit card, has escaped jail.
After being arrested for her part in the offence and granted bail, Adelaida Ioana fled the country and remained at large for almost five years before being arrested in Romania.
And after being extradited to face the charges, she pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to theft and fraud.
The 33-year-old, now of Oakdale Road, Forest Gate, London, who is pregnant with her second child, was given a community order for 18 months, with an 8pm to 7am curfew for two months.
Ioana and her partner targeted a woman in her 80s while she was shopping in the Waitrose store in Stratford.
At the checkouts Ioana queued behind her, moving closer as she entered her credit card pin, to obtain the number.
Ioana entered her plea on the basis it was obtained by her partner, although Prosecutor Graeme Simpson did not accept that.
Ioana paid for a bottle of water and they followed the pensioner’s car to her home in Wilmcote. The couple approached the woman and her husband with a map and asked for directions, as they unloaded the shopping.
The pair followed the couple into the house before asking for a glass of water, and stealing the woman’s bank card from her handbag.
They used the card at an ATM machine and a supermarket before a further attempt to use it at a Chinese restaurant was blocked.
Mr Simpson said Ioana was traced through ANPR cameras.
And after being released on bail and fleeing, she was arrested in Romania earlier this year.
Ioana, who said she had handed herself in, spent five days in custody in this country before being bailed with an electronic tag.
Jane Carpenter, defending, said Ioana’s partner at the time, who has never been caught and is believed to now be wanted in Canada for fraud, was abusive and controlling.
He had planned the offence, and she was under pressure to take part in the operation.
Miss Carpenter added Ioana, who had no previous convictions and had not been in trouble since, was now with a new partner and expecting her second child.
Sentencing Ioana, Judge Peter Cooke told her: “However horrible your boyfriend at the time was, for you to involve yourself in stealing from a vulnerable old lady in such a scheming and devious way was a wicked thing to do.
“I imagine you’ve got old relatives in your family, and I can imagine how you would feel if someone did that to one of them.
“You were 28 at the time, and I accept you did it when you were under the influence of a thoroughly bad person.
“You are now 33, and I hope the young man you are with now is a different sort of person altogether. I imagine things are on a more stable footing now.”
He added he would not send her to prison since she was a mother to a seven-year-old, with another child on the way.
But he warned if she recommitted, her daughter would wonder ‘why mummy was not coming home’.