It was supposed to be one of her luckiest days ever for a woman who won £8,500 from a London casino that she was gambling at. It would be a lucky day for anyone to win that amount of money! Unfortunately, this particular lady had her luck run out pretty quickly. Her good streak of gambling was ruined when, after winning such a high amount, she was followed out of the casino and robbed of her winnings at Sandy railway station. The 55 year old victim, whose name was not released, has now stated that she is scared to travel alone in the future after being robbed in a terrifying manner that has not left her mind since.
The whole scary ordeal started in the West End casino in London when the defendant, Tunisian student Wael Ben-Tourkia, saw that the victim was enjoying a major winning streak while he was in the same casino, also gambling himself. Prosecutor for the victim Daniel Siong states that after the victim collected her money and left the casino, Ben- Tourkia decided to follow her to the underground train that she took to Sandy, riding along with her and watching her until the train came to her stop. The victim then got off the train, heading to her car that she had left parked. Unknown to her was that Ben-Tourkia was still following her quietly, waiting for his chance to relieve her of her winnings. When she got to her car, she put her handbag, full of her casino winnings, on to the passenger seat beside her, getting ready to start the car and drive off. That’s when the defendant made his move to rob her of her good luck.
Before she was able to close the door to her vehicle, the plaintiff was seized by the defendant, who she had still not seen coming for her. He appeared quickly and quietly and held his hand over the top of her mouth, preventing her from screaming, so that he could make a grab for her bag that held all of her winnings from the casino. Although she did try to struggle and defend herself against the attack, the defendant was still able to pull the pocketbook from her grasp. According to the prosecutor for the case, he hurt he while struggling to rob her, before fleeing with the money that she had just won from the London casino.
Amazingly, the woman had a good change of luck. There was an off-duty police officer who happened to be nearby who quickly realized what had happened, and that the victim had been attacked and robbed. He took it upon himself to run after the attacker, and gave chase to Ben-Tourkia in order to catch him. Soon after, a police dog also arrived at the scene, and the defendant was eventually found hiding amongst a number of bins at a house that was located on Ivel Road. After his arrest, it was stated by his attorney that he asked if he would be permitted to see the lady he had just robbed so that he could apologize in person to her.
Ben-Tourkia is a 24 year old student who had been living in London on a student visa prior to the day of the robbery. On July 29th, 2015, he pleaded guilty to the courts for the robbery of the woman from the casino. He was seen crying as he was given a 12 month jail sentence from the judge, and he was also ordered to pay fines and penalties of £1,000. His defense attorney, Ahtiq Raja, spoke out on behalf of his client, trying to defend his actions and convince the court that this was not typical behavior of Ben-Tourkia. He attempted to explain that gambling, drugs and alcohol were not a part of his life until he moved to London and discovered them. He also went on to say that his client had gotten caught up with the wrong crowd, racking up tremendous debts that he was desperate to pay off, but was having trouble doing. At press time these debts were said to be about £35,000, and that Ben-Tourkia amassed this amount mostly from all the gambling that he had been doing.
Raja also mentioned that Ben-Tourkia had just that day taken a precious gift that his mother had given him earlier on, and pawned it for £600, only to lose it all that day at the casino in the hopes of winning money to pay down some of his debts.
The defense attorney did admit that his client was both immature for acting in the despicable way that he did, as well as naive. But he urged the courts to show some mercy towards the boy, insisting that Ben-Tourkia did understand just what a serious crime he had committed, and that he has been remorseful and apologetic ever since it occurred.
According to the court reporter for the case, Rebecca Crane, the stolen items were recovered. However, the ordeal has had a lasting impact on the victim, who has since been scared to travel alone.