A Latvian court translator was sent hundreds of miles to Scarborough after a thief stole two supermarket carrier bags - only to discover the culprit was Lithuanian.
Tadas Tarkutis has been jailed for stealing the Sainsbury’s ‘Bags for Life’ valued at 20p, in a court case that’s estimated could cost the taxpayer over £3,000.
A female translator made a wasted six hour round trip from Rugby in Warwickshire after Tarkutis’ stole the extra-sturdy bags from the Falsgrave branch a day earlier.
But upon realising the gaffe, red-faced magistrates apologised to the translator - before telling her to make sure she got paid.
Case sources have branded the incident an “embarrassment”, and the error - coupled with pricey court, custody and legal fees - has resulted in a public spending pressure group slamming the cost of bringing Tarkutis to justice.
“Criminals must always be brought to justice, but this seems a remarkable amount of taxpayers’ money to spend on a rather minor case,” said Andy Silvester, campaign manager for The Taxpayer’s Alliance.
“Ordinary people rightly expect justice, but they don’t expect it to cost over the odds.
“Avoidable errors have only put the cost up more.”
Scarborough Magistrates heard how Birmingham-based Tarkutis was already serving a suspended sentence when he was brought into Scarborough Police Station last Wednesday.
Officers there correctly organised a Lithuanian translator to undertake a 120 mile round trip from Harrogate, to spend around four hours with the 26-year-old that night.
But at his initial hearing the next morning, no translator was available, and an ill-fated call to translation company Capita resulted in the wrong person being sent on a needless 320 mile Rugby round trip.
The Oldham-based firm - which claims it’s a translation company “you can rely on” - has yet to respond to The Scarborough News’ request for a comment.
But case sources said: “It’s like someone somewhere has just picked out a country that begins with ‘L’. It’s ridiculous.”
After a third attempt to get a translator, Tarkutis pleaded guilty to theft at an afternoon hearing at Scarborough Magistrate’s on Friday.
And despite wearing an ace of spades t-shirt at the initial hearing, luck deserted Tarkutis when Magistrates jailed him for six weeks.
However the thief hasn’t been ordered to pay any court costs - or for the two stolen 10p bags.
Defending its decision to prosecute, a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said that the court’s decision to jail Tarkutis validated the decision to bring the case before the bench.