Hove thief awaits sentence

Posted On 08 Apr 2010 at 7:09 pm

A career criminal from Hove who targeted wealthy London tourists, including a Saudi Arabian prince, will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court tomorrow.

The case against Yuri Harris, 48, of Grand Avenue, Hove, follows a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.

Harris lived a lavish lifestyle funded by his ill-gotten gains, including renting a luxury property in Chelsea.

He will be sentenced alongside Maher Ghalaini, 50, of Ealing, London.

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The pair spent more than £8,500 using a stolen credit card in a 30-minute spree in Selfridges in Oxford Street, London.

BTP detectives followed Harris after receiving a tip-off. He and Ghalaini were posing as directors of a phoney jewellery company at an international jewellery fair in Earls Court, London, in September 2009.

They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal after being spotted paying particular attention to delegates’ bags and handbags.

Further inquiries linked them to thefts from two wealthy individuals’ chauffeur-driven cars in London a month earlier.

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Within days the pair had used a stolen credit card to buy designer clothes and jewellery worth more than £11,000 from Selfridges and other shops in the Oxford Street and Bond Street area.

Harris had previously been arrested and jailed for offences at Heathrow Airport and also in France and Switzerland, where he had conspired with another man to steal a case of valuables at a jewellery trade fair in Basel.

At an earlier trial Harris was found guilty of conspiracy to steal, money laundering and having false identity cards.

Ghalaini, of North Road, Ealing, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, having a false passport in his name and fraudulent use of a credit card.

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