herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Foil bag 'was for Youtube experiment'

A MAN allegedly caught with a security-dodging "shoplifting bag" has insisted he was using it to conduct an experiment he saw on Youtube.

Iulian Zaharia (22) is alleged to have had a foil-lined bag for use in the course of a theft when gardai found him sitting in a car with it.

Denying the charge, he has claimed he was conducting an experiment he saw online to use the bag to block mobile phone signals. The case against him was adjourned at Dublin District Court.

Mr Zaharia, of The Mill, Weaver's Square, Dublin 8 is charged with possession of a foil-lined bag with intent to commit a theft.

Garda Shane Cahill told the court he was on patrol at Oscar Square in Dublin 8 as there had been a large number of burglaries in the area. He came across a red Honda Civic parked and saw two men including the defendant sitting in the car.

As he approached, it was "obvious" that the accused had a foil-lined bag in his lap in the driver's seat.

He spoke to the accused, who got out and handed him the bag. Garda Cahill formed the opinion that it was to be used for shoplifting and explained that such bags could block the signal that allowed security tags to activate alarms in stores.

The bag was seized and the defendant was arrested.

In interview, he explained that he was copying an experiment he saw on Youtube by placing a phone in the bag to block its signal.

He said he was "seeing could it work". They tried this experiment during the interview and it did work, the garda said.

Garda Cahill said he still did not see why the bag had to be the shape of a shopping bag if this was why the accused had it.

Defence Barrister Sorcha Whelan argued that the arrest was not lawful. She said the area where the accused was stopped was a residential area and "not Grafton Street".

Ms Whelan went on to say Mr Zaharia gave an explanation for having the bag, which did block phone signals when tested.

"Garda Cahill perhaps pulled the trigger a little bit too fast, he put two and two together and got five," she said.

The garda accepted that there were no shops in the area but asked: "If (the bag) is made to block mobile phone signals, why is it shaped like a shopping bag?"

Judge James Faughnan adjourned the case for re-hearing on a later date.

hnews@herald.ie

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