The student snatched the victim’s handbag when she put it on the passenger seat of her parked car at the station. The woman struggled to keep the bag, but Ben-Tourkia proved too strong and managed to make off with it. The bad news for the student was that an off-duty policeman was in the area at the time and had noticed the commotion. He pursued the Tunisian and police eventually managed to locate and arrest him.
Luton Crown Court heard that Ben-Tourkia was living in London on a student visa, and that he had apologised as soon as the arrest was made. The defendant’s representative explained how the student had no experience of drugs, alcohol or gambling prior to his arrival in London, but that he had since been associated with ‘the wrong crowd’ and had subsequently developed an addiction to gambling.
Ben-Tourkia was in debt to the tune of around £35,000 by the time he committed the crime for which he was arrested. On the day of the robbery he had pawned a gift from his mother for the sum of £600 and then lost that money at the West End casino. It was against that background that the student made the decision to steal the woman’s winnings.
The defendant wept when he was given financial penalties totalling £1,000 and a 12 month custodial sentence. ‘I accept you have shown genuine remorse,’ said Recorder Rebecca Crane, ‘but a non-custodial sentence is unrealistic.’