By Isabel Hayes & Brion Hoban
A man who was part of a “gang” of United Parcel Service employees engaged in a phone stealing operation at the company’s sorting facility has avoided jail.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that a number of employees were stealing the phones, selling them on and dividing the profits.
Mohammad Bah (21), a college student who was working part-time at the company, was caught by company investigators with five stolen phones down his trousers and in his work boots in August 2019, Garda Niamh Corrigan told the court.
Bah, of Esker Meadow Close, Lucan, Co. Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of phones from the company at Jamestown Road, Finglas, on August 2, 2019. He has no previous convictions.
Last November, Judge Elma Sheahan adjourned the matter and ordered that Bah engage in a restorative justice programme in the interim.
Passing sentence today, Judge Sheahan said Bah has now completed the restorative justice programme. She said she believed that in all circumstances he has learned “a salutary lesson”.
Judge Sheahan said the accused is a “young man with his whole life ahead of him”. She said a conviction for one so young “would affect all aspects of his life” and the court viewed it appropriate to “provide him with an ability to reset his life”.
She said she would invoke Section 100 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. The section allows the court to impose a fine and defer the passing of a sentence of imprisonment for the offence.
Judge Sheahan ordered Bah to pay a €100 fine to Focus Ireland within two weeks. She said an appropriate sentence for the offence would have been 12 months imprisonment.
Gda Corrigan previously told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that on the day in question, a security investigator was at the sorting facility to investigate recent phone thefts.
The investigator watched CCTV footage of Bah and another man working on the floor, sorting packages. He witnessed Bah and another man putting a package aside before Bah put it down his trousers as the other man tried to shield him from view.
When Bah left the floor, he was stopped by the investigator and other staff members. He immediately owned up to stealing the phone and went on to reveal he had four more phones hidden in his work safety boots.
Bah told investigators that there was a “gang” of employees involved in the phone thefts, headed by the man who had shielded him on the floor. That man’s case is now before the courts.
Bah said he had been approached about taking part in the operation a couple of months after he joined the company in April 2019. Initially, he acted as a lookout before he got more involved in stealing the phones, the court heard.
He told investigators he initially made €100 a day from phone thefts, before it rose to as much as €900 in profits from stolen phones.
The phones were sold on to other parties and the profits were divided among the employees, the court heard. Bah showed the investigators Whatsapp messages between himself and other UPS workers discussing the operation.
The total value of the five phones Bah was caught with was just over €1900, Gda Corrigan said. UPS did not make a victim impact statement.
Emer Ní Chúagáin BL, defending, said her client was just 19 at the time of the offending and was at the “lowest rung” of the operation. She submitted the other people involved were much older than Bah.
She said Bah was in college studying sports and fitness therapy at the time and was working night shifts to support himself. He is now working full-time and a letter was handed up by his current employer describing him as cooperative, competent and reliable.
Ms Ní Chúagáin said her client was young and made a “foolish mistake”. She said he had a good work ethic and plenty of potential. A letter of apology was handed into court and she said Bah had €1900 as a token of his remorse.
Judge Sheahan ordered that sum of money to be donated to St Vincent de Paul.