Vasile Bogda came to the UK from his native Romania in order to commit robberies, or so the Judge said on 8th August 2013 as he jailed him for 10 years following his plea of guilty to conspiring to commit a string of robberies over a three month period from November 2012.
They did well, netting about £300,000. What brought Mr Bogda to the attention of the press was the fact that, as you can see from the photo above, his role in the conspiracy was that of lookout. And, to fool any watching members of the constabulary, he disguised himself as a woman to throw them off the scent (whether in fact this would have had the alternative consequence of having drawn attention to himself instead is another matter).
The robberies were carefully planned and, after checking with Mr Bogda that the coast was clear, the gang went in with sledgehammers and smashed the display cabinets, making off with jewellery. He was arrested after the last raid when the shop owner spotted him looking suspicious and chased after him. The rest of the gang remain at large.
Was the sentence of 10 years a fair one? The Sentencing Guidelines for Robbery don’t apply to cases such as this, you have to go back to previous guideline decisions of the Court of Appeal. The most relevant examples are bank robberies where people are armed : 15-20 years (R v Adams and Harding  2 Cr.App.R.(S) 274) and robbery of small shops : 7-10 years (AG’s Ref. No.7 of 1992 (Khan) (1993) 14 Cr.App.R.(S) 122).
Allowing for credit for the plea of guilty, the Judge seems to have taken a starting point of 15 years for Mr Bogda. This is higher that one would expect given that there were no weapons, but is perhaps explicable on the basis of the high value of property stolen, the multiple robberies, the use of sledgehammers (which would have caused great fear and potentially injury) and the sophisticated planning.
Even on that basis, the sentence is right at the top of the bracket of what one would expect. For that reason, there may well be an appeal, but it is unlikely to succeed…