Romanian 'career criminal' admits role in plot to burgle war veteran

Romanian ‘career criminal’, 31, admits his role in plot to burgle home of 98-year-old war veteran who was beaten to death during break-in for his £20 TV set

  • Peter Gouldstone, 98, was found with severe injuries and extensive bruising 
  • Romanian national Nicolae Ion, 31, has admitted his role in the plot to burgle him

A Romanian ‘career criminal’ today admitted his role in a plot to burgle a 98-year-old World War Two veteran who was beaten to death for his £20 TV set. 

Peter Gouldstone, a retired telephone engineer, was found on November 6, 2018 at the Evesham Road home in New Southgate that he had lived in for more than sixty years. 

He suffered severe injuries, including two bleeds to the brain and extensive bruising, dying three weeks after the break-in. 

His Panasonic television, worth £20, was taken during the raid. 

Homeless Romanian national Nicolae Ion, 31, also known as Patrascu, fought the charge until the day of his trial and was anxious to distance himself from Mr Gouldstone’s death.

He was only caught when Metropolitan police rushed north to Edinburgh Airport to prevent his deportation.

Retired telephone engineer Peter Gouldstone (pictured in hospital) was found at the Evesham Road home in New Southgate he had lived in for over sixty years, suffering severe injuries, including two bleeds to the brain and extensive bruising

A Romanian ‘career criminal’ today finally admitted his role in a plot to burgle t 98 year-old World War Two veteran, who died three weeks after the break-in

Prosecutor Simon Sandford told Ion, who appeared in custody wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a dark green sweatshirt, he had been keen to only admit to the attempted burglary of Mr Gouldstone’s home.

Mr Sandford said Ion ‘appeared to be saying: ”I was going to burgle these premises but another team or person got there before me and was in the process of burgling it”’, so he aborted the plot.

‘He accepts he was party to the burglary, but did not enter the premises itself,’ said Mr Sanford. 

‘The concern is there was an elderly man on the premises who died shortly afterwards and the Crown would open that as a fact, but make it plain that the defendant was not party to the man that died.’

Today Ion pleaded guilty to conspiring with persons unknown to burgle dwelling houses in New Southgate on or before November 6, 2018.

Judge Gerard Pounder did not make a contempt order. ‘It would be different if he was here on a charge of manslaughter, but he is not. There is no evidence he was responsible for causing it,’ they said. 

Ion had already pleaded guilty to burgling 248 Oaks Lane, Ilford on August 4, 2019, stealing jewellery, two suitcases, a television and two jewellery boxes.

He also pleaded guilty to the attempted burglary, with others, of 32 Manor Drive North, New Malden, south-west London on July 30, 2019.

Mr Sandford said: ‘He has also been committed to this court for dangerous driving so we have to arrange for all matters to be brought together.’

Ion also falls to be sentenced on two burglary counts he admitted during a separate hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court at addresses in Waltham Abbey and Bishop’s Stortford.

Mr Gouldstone was attacked and robbed in his own home on Evesham Road in Enfield, north London

His lawyer David Langwallner failed to convince Judge Pounder to impose a Contempt of Court Order prohibiting publication of Ion’s link to an offence at Mr Gouldstone’s home.

‘At the urging of my client there is a concern and he had nothing to do with the death of that man. There is a danger if he is named and the press link it by implication to this elderly man,’ they said. 

‘My client did not go into that property and did not see the occupant and the Crown can put their case on that basis.

‘What I’m concerned about is if the press report the matter by naming him without careful editing there may be a suggestion they name him as the person responsible.’

Judge Pounder said: ‘There is nothing to say he was responsible for the sad loss of life of the occupant. 

‘We need to fix a sentencing date for all the cases here. It will take a couple of hours and he will remain in custody until then.’

The judge told Ion: ‘You have pleaded guilty which is to your credit. We are going to see if you are sentenced here or Chelmsford. If it is here it will be on October 6.’

During a previous hearing prosecutor Jack Triggs told the court: ‘There are a number of other burglaries Ion is linked to with a similar ‘M.O.’ breaking through the front door and stealing property.’

In August, 2020 Ion received twenty-four weeks imprisonment for breaking into a residential property and stealing power tools.

In the raid that cost Mr Gouldstone his life, burglars made off with a £20 Panasonic TV

He also received four weeks custody for breaking into a garden shed in 2020 and stealing a bike.

Police have also linked him forensically to burglaries in July and August, 2019, but no further action was taken because he had returned to his homeland.

Ion has also pleaded guilty to another burglary in August, 2019 when a door was broken down and a television taken in Waltham Abbey and will be sentenced later.

‘He does not have any right to be in the UK and when he was detained at Edinburgh Airport was going to be put on the next flight back to Romania and it was only the intervention of the police that prevented that,’ explained Mr Triggs.

‘He has failed to surrender five times during those cases and there is every likelihood that if granted bail he would return to Romania.

‘There are strong grounds he will fail to surrender and commit further offences.

‘He is linked to eight burglaries in this country that we know of. It seems he is a career criminal and he has convictions for twelve offences in Romania of theft and robbery-type.

‘In his written bail application he says he has not committed any burglaries. That is clearly untrue.

‘The majority of the burglaries were committed at night and some were when the occupants had left them empty for a number of days.

‘Ion claims he was knocking on doors looking for scrap mental.’

Mr Gouldstone, who worked for the Post Office until retiring in 1980, was found dying at 10.00am on November 6, 2018 and passed away in hospital three weeks later.

A post-mortem confirmed the cause of death as complications of a traumatic head injury.

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