‘I don’t understand,’ pleads Spanish speaking burglar who couldn’t hear his own sentencing due to remote tech

A South American burglar pleaded that he could not understand his own court hearing yesterday as he was sentenced to six months for a residential raid worth over £3,000 yesterday (26 May).

Roberto Fiorentino, 39, did not have a translator or solicitor when he first appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court charged with an August 2019 burglary.

The Chilean-Italian national admitted stealing a gold bracelet, Swarovski bracelets, Swarovski watch, earrings, gemstones and a Tiffany pen to the value of £3008 from Lake Road, Wimbledon, the court heard.

He appeared by video link from HMP Maidstone where he is already serving a 22 month sentence for a burglary in September 2019.

When he first appeared Fiorentino only answered ‘me, English?’ when asked if he spoke any by District Judge Timothy Godfrey, no interpreter appeared to have been considered before the hearing.

The court’s conference telephone was used to call an interpreter, but technical issues with sound plagued the hearing which ended with Fiorentino making a pleading motion with his hands and saying ‘no entiendo, por favor’ (I don’t understand, please).

The conference phone, which cancels any sound that is too far from its microphone, had to be continuously moved between Fiorentino’s television screen, his lawyer and District Judge Godfrey.

‘It’s too far away, I can hear something, but I need to hear exactly what he said,’ said the interpreter.

No solicitor had been booked by Fiorentino for his hearing, for reasons which were unclear, but he managed to remember the name of the firm that previously represented him and his case was pushed back until the afternoon for his solicitor to travel to the court.

Once Tahir Ali, defending, arrived he said: ‘I know Mr Fiorentino is eager to be sentenced, if the matter can be resolved today.’

‘There is no suggestion that this was deliberately targeted or planned, it wasn’t sophisticated in nature, with a ladder being used and something to smash a glass panel.’

Fiorentino was sentenced for the previous burglary on 13 October 2019 but not for the earlier burglary due to a delay in DNA evidence.

Because of this delay he was yesterday sentenced to an additional six months in prison which began yesterday.

A 22 month sentence meant he would have been eligible for release on licence after 11 months, approximately September 2020.

He is keen to complete his sentence and be deported to Chile where all of his family live, the court heard.

District Judge Timothy Godfrey said: ‘The judge at crown court would have considered totality in sentencing you, the fact is you’re now serving 22 months. 

‘Taking that into account and the guidelines, It seems to me I can properly deal with you by imposing a sentence of six months imprisonment from today, do you understand that?’

Fiorentino, who had been straining towards the screen to hear proceedings, shook his head and made a pleading motion, repeating ‘I don’t understand’ in Spanish.

He was assured that his solicitor would explain what had been decided in a conference once the hearing had finished.

‘You conducted an untidy search of a family home in order to steal, you stole the items which have been set out already in the charge, no doubt that caused serious upset and concern to the householders,’ said District Judge Godfrey.

‘Those items may well have been of sentimental value as well as monetary value, you invaded the safety of a family home. 

‘I accept that the monetary value was limited. You also damaged the alarm which I understand cost about a thousand points to repair.’

Fiorentini, 39, of Chilean and Italian nationality, also faces a charge of possessing a false Italian identity card and will appear at Kingston Crown Court on 22 June.

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