Prison sentence for spending spree

A Lebanese national that went on a spending spree worth over $2,000 after finding a credit card in a supermarket car-park will spend 30 days in jail before being deported, Magistrate Ramsay-Hale ruled Wednesday.

The Magistrate had indicated she would not impose a prison sentence on Fady El Sater but was swayed when she heard that El Sater’s actions had left the joint owners of the account without money for almost a month.

‘The victims were seriously embarrassed by your offence. You used their wages, and must have caused them significant hardship and embarrassment,’ Magistrate Ramsay-Hale said. ‘It was disgraceful behaviour – to come here and steal money.’

In making her deportation order, Magistrate Ramsay-Hale told El Sater, ‘You don’t belong here.’ She also ordered him to pay $1938.73 in compensation.

Crown Counsel Kristy-Ann Gunn told the court El Sater used the stolen credit card to purchase various food items, jewellery, electronic goods and clothes. In addition, he unsuccessfully tried to withdrawal $400 with the card at ATM’s on three separate occasions.

Although many of the items had been recovered, $1938.73 worth of goods could not be returned to retailers for use, Mrs. Gunn said.

Earlier, the court heard that El Sater – who was unrepresented – earned US$2,500 per month, lived rent-free in Cayman and had access to a vehicle for transportation.

In a police interview, El Sater said it was not until he had used the credit card, had an afternoon nap then woke up, that he realised he had done something wrong. When questioned further by police, El Sater – whose command of English was described in court as limited – could not verbalise a reason for the offences.

The court heard El Sater had no previous conviction in any jurisdiction and also attended Catholic Church every Sunday. Magistrate Ramsay-Hale said she was surprised by this, given that stealing is against the precepts of church. Mrs. Gunn said El Sater had indicated he was coming to the end of his work permit and wanted to have the matter dealt with.

In total, El Sater was convicted of one count of theft, three counts of attempted theft in relation to the unsuccessful ATM cash withdrawals and 16 counts of obtaining property by deception in relation to purchases with the credit card.

In sentencing, Magistrate Ramsay-Hale told El Sater that opportunistic thefts are just as serious as premeditated ones. ‘They portray a criminal propensity,’ she said. ‘Honest people would resolve to return the credit card to the owner. A dishonest man capitalises on someone else’s loss.’

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