A JUDGE yesterday warned eastern European criminals to stay away from Britain or be “severely punished” if they break the law here.
In a fierce broadside, Judge Timothy Pontius said the UK was no “soft touch” and insisted courts will come down heavily on “imported” crooks.
The warning came as the judge jailed for more than 80 years a gang of Romanian armed robbers who stole gold worth over £1million in a series of raids on jewellery shops.
He said they came to the UK with the clear intent to commit crime and promised they would be deported at the end of their sentences.
His hardline stance was widely backed last night amid mounting fears that foreign crime networks plan to invade the UK when visa rules are relaxed next year.
Tens of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians are expected to flood into Britain from next January thanks to the EU’s freedom of movement laws.
The judge said: “There has been recent comment in the press and elsewhere suggesting that next year will bring a large influx of migrants from eastern Europe. Anyone who comes to the UK intent to commit serious crime must clearly understand that any such abuse of the hospitality of this country and its people will be severely punished.