A total of 14 months jail has been imposed on a man who failed to contest charges of credit card fraud at a city centre hotel nearly three months ago.
Crossley Williams (34 ) of no fixed abode denied being involved in “common design” during a scam which saw stolen credit card details belonging to a woman living in Texas being dishonestly used to book rooms and a number of services at Jurys Inn, Quay Street, on February 2, 2009.
He claimed that it had been his friend who had acted totally independently and had used the card without his knowledge. Co-accused Kingsley Kelechi Awulonu (23 ), with an address at 112 North Circular Road, Flat 4, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to similar offences and was jailed for a total of 16 months earlier this month.
At Monday’s sitting of Galway District Court Williams also pleaded not guilty to possession of a Dell laptop used in the course of an offence, dishonestly operating the computer with the intention of making gain, and failure to produce a valid passport.
Receptionist Anne Feeney told the court that two men, including the defendant, and a woman, were checked into two rooms. Under questioning by defence solicitor Brid Millar, Ms Feeney said that she had “no contact” at all with the defendant.
Another receptionist, Sandra Kelly, received a call from one of the rooms asking for “credit to be topped up by €300”. Suspicions were raised when the credit card details failed to go through and when the real Jaclyn Underwood, from Texas, rang the reception. Ms Underwood asked to be put through to the room but after failing to get a response she reported the matter and gardai were called.
Garda James Carty said that three persons sitting at the bar were pointed out to him and were arrested. During a search of one of the rooms two laptops were found. On the Toshiba laptop a number of “phishing documents” were found to be open. These contained 101 credit card numbers from the US and UK with the names, addresses, security numbers of cards, and emails. When questioned by Ms Millar if there had been anything found on the Dell laptop, which belonged to her client, Garda Carty replied: “Unfortunatley no. I was studying it when it powered out”.
Garda Paddy McDonnell said that the defendant, who is originally from the South American country of Guyana, claimed to be an asylum seeker and since arriving in Ireland in December 2008 he had been staying in Portlaoise. Williams had told gardai that he and Awulonu had come to Galway to meet up with their female companion’s cousin and had checked into a hostel using the last of their money.
Awulonu told the court that he had offered to “organise it all” and that Williams “knew nothing of it”. Williams, a trained accountant and ex maths teacher, then gave evidence under oath that he did not know what Awulonu was doing. When Inspector Coppinger put it to him that he was “acting in common design in deceiving Jaclyn Underwood, the hotel, and the State” Williams replied: “No”.
Judge Mary Fahy, who found the defendant’s evidence to be “unbelievable”, convicted and sentenced Williams to a total of 14 months in jail, backdated to February 5. Leave to appeal was granted