Man jailed for stealing woman's winnings - Sandy

11/09/2015

A woman, who thought it was her lucky day when she won £8,500 in a London casino, had her illusions shattered when she was followed out of London and robbed at Sandy railway station.

The court heard that the 55-year-old victim feared she would be scared to travel alone in future and had not expected to be robbed in broad daylight in a small town.

Before Luton Crown Court was Tunisian student Wael Ben-Tourkia, who had been gambling in the same West End casino. He saw her winning streak and followed her on the underground and train to Sandy, said Daniel Siong, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

She left the train and went to her parked car, putting her handbag on the passenger seat. "But before she could close the door the defendant appeared and put his hand over her mouth to prevent her screaming and grabbed the bag. She struggled with him, but he wrenched the bag from her causing her pain, and then  ran off," said the prosecutor.

Fortunately, an off duty police officer had become aware of what was happening and gave chase. A police dog also arrived and Ben-Tourkia was found hiding behind some bins at a house in Ivel Road. When arrested he asked if he could see the lady to apologise.

The 24-year-old defendant, who was living in London on a student visa, pleaded guilty to the robbery which took place on 29 July this year.

On Friday, 11 September 2015, he wept as he was jailed for 12 months with financial penalties of £1,000.

Ahtiq Raja, defending said: "Drugs, alcohol and gambling were unknown to him until he came to London. He has fallen in with the wrong crowd and accrued debts of £35,000, mainly through his gambling addiction. "Even that day he had pawned a precious gift from his mother for £600 and then thrown it all away in the casino. He is immature and naive, but understands the gravity of what he has done and was immedately apologetic." He urged the court to show mercy and suspend the prison sentence.

Recorder Rebecca Crane said: "The stolen items were recovered, but the offence will have on on going impact on the victim. I accept you have shown genuine remorse, but a non-custodial sentence is unrealistic."

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