Thirty-eight-year old, Lester Lawrence, stole $165, 000 worth of gold shaped pucks from the Royal Canadian Mint by hiding them in his rectum has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Lawrence smuggled over 20 pieces of gold out of the Mint while he was an employee there. The crook set off metal detectors several times, but the gold was never detected in “pat-downs” by security guards.
He was found guilty of five charges, including theft, back in November. Judge Peter Doody stayed two of those charges on Thursday. Doody also ordered Lawrence to pay $190,000 in restitution to the Mint. If Lawrence doesn’t repay the money within three years, after his release, he could face further imprisonment.
Lawrence’s lawyer has pushed for an 18-month sentence for his client, but the Crown is seeking a three-year sentence. CTV News’ Omar Sachedina reported that Lawrence delivered a brief statement thanking the judge for the sentence, after seen with his head kept down during most of the court proceedings.
Lawrence worked at the mint from 2008 up until March 2015. It was during this time, he purified gold in a process that involved creating the pucks. The court also heard that he often times would work alone and out of the range of the security cameras.
Doody did note in his ruling, however, that the decision was based on “circumstantial evidence” and there were no witnesses or footage of Lawrence actually stealing the gold. The judge then told the court that a penitentiary term was needed to deter others.
Security footage does, however, show the former employee setting off metal detectors at security standpoints on several occasions as he left the mint. The stolen gold was never discovered during follow-up pat-downs and searches with handheld wands by security guards. During his ruling, Judge Doody said that Lawrence set off the metal detector more often than any other Mint employee – which he thought was suspicious.
Eventually, Lawrence was caught by police after they were tipped from a bank employee in February 2015 when he asked to cash two cheques worth $15,200. The court then heard that Lawrence had told the bank teller he had sold “gold nuggets”. It was then that the police put him under surveillance after the unusual transaction was reported.
Police eventually seized a gold puck Lawrence sold and discovered four more in his safety deposit box. They also found latex gloves and Vaseline in his locker, which the judge told the court that those “could have been used to facilitate insertion of gold items inside his rectum.”
-Loredana Del Bello, Assistant Campus News Editor