Squatters targeted occupied house

March 23, 2010 at 6:20 PM

NORTHAMPTON, England, March 23 (UPI) -- A Romanian family living in Britain was cleared of burglary after they attempted to move into a house they thought was abandoned while the owner was merely out.

Northampton Crown Court Judge Richard Bray heard the homeowner returned home shortly after leaving because he had forgotten his wallet and discovered Mihai Dediu, 30, and his wife Laura, 24, moving his belongings out of the house while their young child looked on, The Sun reported Tuesday.

Dediu told the court his family had heard the house was empty and was planning to squat to save money.

"The house was a mess. We were tidying it up. It did not look as if anybody was living there," he said. "I met a man in a shop and he said this house was empty. I just wanted to save on rent. I don't earn much."

The couple were cleared of burglary but were sentenced to 12 months of probation for pleading guilty to criminal damage of the home's locks and windows.

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