Suspended sentence for jeweller who faked robbery

 

A jewellery salesman who enlisted a prostitute and members of "The Westies" gang to help him arrange a staged robbery of diamonds valued at almost €300,000 has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

Menachem Goldsobel (41) planned the robbery as part of a "madcap" insurance scam hoping to be allowed by his employer to return to work in London after nine years in Ireland.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Goldberg QC, with Bernard Condon BL, said his client was a member "of the ultra orthodox Hasidic Jewish community" in north London, of which there were less then 5,000 members.

He compared them to the Amish in Philadelphia, saying they "live lives almost from the last century, not wishing to be exposed to corrupting influences of modern life".

Goldsobel had been travelling every week for the last nine years to Ireland from London and spending the working week living in hotels. His "loneliness and alienation" in Dublin led him to resort to the company of a prostitute, "Toni", whom he asked to introduce him to people who might participate in his scheme.

Mr Goldberg said Goldsobel's plan was to stage a fake robbery then give the diamonds to his employer, who could make an insurance claim without losing anything, thus gaining favour and being allowed to return home.

He said Goldsobel was introduced to a man from "The Westies" gang who told him he would arrange "witnesses".

Goldsobel, a married father of seven children, of Colberg Place, London, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly making a false statement to gardaí that an offence had taken place on December 12th, 2004.

Judge Desmond Hogan said the offence was committed "at a time of great loneliness" in Goldsobel's life and that he had been "naive in the extreme" to get involved with others "better versed in the ways of crime".

Judge Hogan said this was a first offence by a man whom reports showed was "a man for others", constantly giving to those less fortunate. He had suffered a great loss of reputation in his community and that was a burden he must bear but with the help of his community he would succeed.

The judge said a custodial sentence was not appropriate but the seriousness of the crime had to be marked with a three-year sentence which he suspended on strict conditions.

Detective Garda Declan Birchall said Goldsobel, attended "in distress" at the Garda station after he had been sprayed in the face with Mace gas. He was taken to hospital but returned later in the day and told gardaí he had been robbed of a bag containing £200,000 (€297,535) worth of diamonds.

He told gardaí he had been making a delivery to a jeweller in Dorset Street and was returning to his jeep when he was approached by a lone male who sprayed him with Mace.

He said this man took a bag from him containing "jewellery pouches" of loose diamonds.