Sweet jus­tice for thief

8-year sen­tence for us­ing drugged cho­co­late to steal from el­derly

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - Paul Cherry

MON­TREAL — An Al­ge­rian man who ap­par­ently came to Canada with the sole in­tent of drug­ging el­derly women and pil­fer­ing any­thing of value from their homes was sen­tenced to an eight-year prison term Fri­day af­ter ad­mit­ting to thefts in Ot­tawa and Mon­treal.

“I made an enor­mous er­ror. I ask for for­give­ness, es­pe­cially from the vic­tims,” Hamid Chekakri said be­fore Que­bec court Judge Thierry Nadon agreed with the joint rec­om­men­da­tion pre­sented to him on Fri­day in Mon­treal by prose­cu­tor Hugo Rousse and de­fence lawyer Tom Pen­te­foun­tas.

Nadon ap­peared some­what taken aback by Chekakri’s state­ment. He cor­rected him and noted he made “many er­rors” only weeks af­ter he ar­rived in Mon­treal on Oct. 5, 2017, and re­quested a visa.

His first theft was Nov. 17, 2017, in Ot­tawa, when he asked to check out a house for sale and sneaked off with some jew­elry and a small safe when he left.

Be­tween Dec. 11 and Dec. 23 last year, he used cho­co­late laced with a pow­er­ful seda­tive, clon­azepam, in three thefts in Mon­treal. Five peo­ple in Mon­treal con­sumed the choco­lates Chekakri of­fered them and he forced an­other woman to eat the laced candy.

All six fell asleep for hours and awoke to learn Chekakri had stolen from them.

In an at­tempt to iden­tify the cul­prit, the Mon­treal po­lice re­leased in­for­ma­tion on the thefts. Chekakri saw a tele­vised re­port de­tail­ing his crimes and he fled Canada on Dec. 28, cross­ing the U.S. border at Ni­a­gara Falls.

He was tracked down in the U.S. on March 31 as he was pre­par­ing to fly to Costa Rica. He was ar­rested and ex­tra­dited. Clon­azepam was found in his suit­case.

“The only con­clu­sion that we can draw is that (he came to Canada to com­mit the thefts),” Rousse later told re­porters.

Dur­ing the plea hear­ing, Chekakri ad­mit­ted he has served jail terms for sim­i­lar crimes in China and Hong Kong.

In the Ot­tawa case, Chekakri learned that an el­derly woman was sell­ing her home and showed up unan­nounced ask­ing to see it. He didn’t drug the woman, but took her jew­elry and a small safe.

For his first theft in Mon­treal, Chekakri tar­geted a 77-year-old woman, first vis­it­ing her home on Dec. 6 last year while the woman’s adult daugh­ter was present. He asked if he could see the home again the next day, and made ar­range­ments with the daugh­ter to visit in the af­ter­noon.

The next morn­ing he con­firmed the ap­point­ment with the daugh­ter but went straight to the house. The daugh­ter called her mother and was sur­prised to learn Chekakri was al­ready there, with a box of choco­lates and wine in hand.

Chekakri was given the phone and the daugh­ter told him to leave, but the mother had al­ready eaten a cho­co­late. Chekakri hung up and left, but when the daugh­ter called back, she no­ticed her mother had dif­fi­culty talk­ing.

The daugh­ter asked a rel­a­tive to check on her mother. When the rel­a­tive ar­rived, the woman was un­con­scious, ly­ing on the floor.

The 77-year-old was taken to a hos­pi­tal and re­mained there for three days while she was treated for the side-ef­fects of the seda­tive. She later learned Chekakri had made off with her wal­let and some cash.

Rousse read a vic­tim-im­pact state­ment in court on Fri­day and said the big­gest loss the woman suf­fered was her au­ton­omy, for three months, be­cause she could not live alone dur­ing her re­cov­ery.

Hamid CHekakri

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