Three British nationals will spend at least the next two years behind bars after admitting to fraudulent credit card transactions.
Michael Akinwale Akingbade, a 33-year-old civil engineer; Joseph Adedapo King, a 30-year-old courier; and 19-year-old Mukhtar Mohamed Muctar Abbasheikh have pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining one watch each from three different establishments, valued at $22,500, $15,485 and $17,300 respectively.
Abbasheikh has also been convicted of one count of going equipped for which he received an additional year in jail.
The stores targeted in the scam were Diamonds International, the Royal Shop and Cartiers.
In sentencing the men, Justice Jacqueline Cornelius said she had taken several factors into consideration. Among them was defence counsel’s Andrew Pilgrim QC’s mitigation that his clients had all expressed remorse and were considered to have a low risk of reoffending by probation officers. He said they were well-educated men who had alternatives to criminal activity.
Even though Pilgrim urged the court to impose non-custodial sentences, particularly since the watches had been recovered “in mint condition,” the judge shared the prosecutor’s view that only a custodial sentence would suffice.
She referred to Principal Crown Counsel Elwood Watts’ submissions that the Englishmen had attempted “a sophisticated undertaking”, had acted as a group, and had targeted high-value items.
The convicted men obtained three watches valued over $55,000 from jewellery stores earlier this year.
Cornelius felt that the crimes were not “spur of the moment” but were well planned, with an aim to obtaining “expensive consumer items” from a country which they viewed as “slow”.
Further, there was no proof coming from Interpol to support Mukhtar’s statement to the police that he had been forced into the criminal activity by a South London gang and failure to participate would have put him or his family in jeopardy.
As first time offenders, “ you jumped into the deep end of the pool of criminal activity with both feet and with your eyes open,” the judge remarked.
Meanwhile, the fourth person charged, Melissa Latoya Cumberbatch, a self-employed 30-year-old from Carrington Village, St Michael, has maintained her denial of the charges. She remains on $15,000 bail.