Customers’ phones stolen at nightclub

Suspended sentence for defendant, who returned phones

A man who admitted stealing three cellphones at a nightclub was given a suspended sentenced on Monday after Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez heard that the phones had been returned to their owners and the defendant had no previous convictions.

Kessel Alexis Johnson Moore, 37, pleaded guilty to stealing the phones on Sept. 5, 2015, at the Havana Club on West Bay Road. The phones had a total value of $2,000.

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson told the court that the three complainants went to the club around 11:45 p.m. on Sept. 4. They left their cellphones with a female at the front desk, in accordance with club policy. When they were ready to leave, around 1:30 a.m., they could not find their phones.

Mr. Ferguson said the manager checked the CCTV for the area and “discovered certain things” in the footage. A police officer went to the club the next day, reviewed the footage and recognized Johnson Moore as the person removing the phones from the front desk.

The defendant was contacted and invited to attend the police station. He subsequently brought the phones, which were identified by the complainants as theirs.

Defense attorney Dennis Brady explained that Johnson Moore had gone to the club with a group of friends and they had all turned in their phones as required. The defendant’s account was that the three phones in question were taken by mistake because of the extent of his inebriation.

Mr. Brady said it was a clear case of coming into possession of the phones by mistake “and then taking it to a level that was not permissible” by “interfering” with the devices.

The magistrate said taking one phone might be by mistake, but not picking up three phones. She said she did not accept the defendant’s story, especially when he wiped the phones clean afterward and put his own information on them. People are so attached to their phones these days, she said. “If you pick up the wrong phone, you jolly well know it.”

She also pointed out that alcohol was not a defense.

“No, but it’s the reality of the situation,” Mr. Brady replied.

He urged the court to accept that the offending was out of character for his client, who was gainfully employed and had no previous convictions.

The magistrate said she was taking these factors into account along with Johnson Moore’s guilty plea. The phones had been returned, she noted, so there was no loss to the owners “except maybe sentimental data.”

She imposed a prison sentence of four months, but suspended it for two years.