• Monday, May 20, 2024

UK News

Baggage handler avoids jail after stealing jewellery

Photo: iStock

By: Pramod Thomas

HEATHROW baggage handler has spared prison after stealing £29,000 worth of jewellery from a misplaced suitcase, reported MyLondon.

Priti Sthankiya moved the bag from Terminal 2 and concealed beneath a carousel in January last year, the Old Bailey heard on Thursday (11).

Subsequently, she retrieved designer handbags containing £500 in cash, Ray-Ban sunglasses, a designer watch, a MacBook, and a diamond ring.

The victim, Sandhya Gunesh, and her partner, returning from a vacation in Mauritius, inadvertently left their hand luggage unattended at the airport.

Despite several inquiries to Heathrow staff regarding the misplaced items, they were repeatedly informed that the luggage was yet to be located.

It was only after Gunesh sought assistance from the police and a subsequent review of CCTV footage that Sthankiya’s actions came to light.

Upon her arrest, Sthankiya falsely claimed ownership of the jewellery. She also said that the bag belonged to her.

Although most of the pilfered items were recovered from her residence and workplace locker, approximately £4,000 worth of belongings, including the diamond ring, cash, and sunglasses, remain unrecovered.

During the trial, Sthankiya admitted her mistakes, citing personal difficulties as a contributing factor.

Her defence counsel, Jonathan Whitley, stressed her remorse and attributed her actions to distress stemming from a divorce and financial burdens.

Recorder Ian Stern KC, however, dismissed the argument.

“She has direct responsibility for baggage. That’s what she is there for. It could not be a higher breach of trust, could it?,” Stern was quoted as saying.

According to Whitley, Sthankiya, who worked in the role for eight years before being fired, was extremely upset due to a divorce and had a lot of debt.

He added that the accused was known to be hardworking and honest, and couldn’t explain why she stole the items.

Despite a probation report suggesting she wasn’t fully accepting responsibility, Whitley argued that she felt sorry and asked for a suspended sentence, stating she was deeply ashamed.

Ultimately, despite acknowledging Sthankiya’s contrition, Recorder Stern imposed a 12-month suspended sentence for 12 months. In addition to this, she is mandated to complete 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and undergo a six-month mental health treatment requirement.

No order for costs or compensation was issued.


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