A PROLIFIC thief and fraudster who has been convicted of over a dozen crimes across Europe is facing deportation after he was jailed for mugging a 94-year-old man in York.

Albert Stoian, 35, and accomplice Romica Stoica, 41, marched up to the pensioner and snatched his wallet in “broad daylight” and left the terrified victim badly shaken, a court heard.

The muggers, both originally from Romania, split up and ran off from the busy street in York, at 2.20pm on August 24, before they were caught by police. The two men were arrested and initially charged with robbery.

Stoica, of Hull, denied robbery but admitted theft. Stoian, who had 14 previous convictions for 27 offences, denied the offence outright and told officers he was a “God-fearing man and would never resort to stealing”.

He was also charged with driving without insurance or a licence but denied these allegations too.

Both men appeared at York Crown Court via video link on Monday when Stoian, of Middlesbrough, denied robbery but pleaded guilty to distraction theft.

Judge Mr Hickey slammed the two defendants for attacking a 94-year-old man “simply going about his business, and in broad daylight”.

He said: “This was mean and despicable behaviour.

“(This was) theft using intimidation and the use of force (and involved) significant planning, moving from one city to another with a motorcar.”

He told Stoian: “You have a bad record (and you have committed) 20 separate thefts across Europe and this country.”

Stoian “took an appraising look” at the elderly victim who had a “verbal exchange” with Stoica, prosecutor Helen Towers told the court.

Miss Towers said the stolen wallet - containing a £10 note - had been found in Stoica’s police cell following his arrest. She said that the victim, who felt extremely intimidated, had been targeted due to his age and vulnerability.

The court heard how Stoian and Stoica had driven to York specifically looking for just such a victim.

Brendan O’Leary, defending Stoian, said the married father-of-two had been working at a recycling centre and was the main breadwinner for his family.

Glen Parsons, defending Stoica, said his client had never been in trouble before this “mean” offence and was remorseful.

However, Stoica had failed to turn up to court on September 21 after being bailed following his arrest in York. He was arrested the following day in London.

Stoian was given an 18-month jail sentence. Stoica, due to his previous good character, received a 10-month prison term. They will both serve half their sentences behind bars before being released on prison licence. Both men now face possible deportation, but Judge Hickey said that was a decision for the Home Secretary.