Leamington restaurant boss jailed for card theft and robbery

Mohammed Anwar.
Mohammed Anwar.

When police searched the home of a Leamington restaurant boss they found credit cards he had stolen from a customer and a driving licence he had taken in a robbery five years earlier.

Mohammed Anwar (35) of Hellidon Close, Leamington, was found guilty of the robbery and of two offences of theft by a jury at Warwick Crown Court.

Anwar, who was the manager of the Indus Restaurant in Bath Street at the time of his arrest, was jailed for two years and one month.

Prosecutor Sally Cairns said that in 2011 the male victim went for a night out in Leamington town centre, and in the early hours of the morning he was seen outside a night club.

He was drunk, and two police officers stopped to speak to him to check that he was alright.

As they were talking to him, Anwar approached them and said he knew the victim and would take him home, and led him away.

But as they went through a cutting between two roads near to the victim’s home, Anwar pushed him, causing him to fall to the floor.

“The defendant leant over him and took his wallet, containing his provisional driving licence, cash and bank card, from his pocket, and then walked off,” said Mrs Cairns.

“We move on five years to the 4th of March 2016 when the police searched the defendant’s home and two cars – and among the property they found was the victim’s licence, stolen back in 2011.”

As a result, the victim was contacted and took part in an identification procedure during which he picked out Anwar as the person who had robbed him.

The officers had initially gone to Anwar’s home on an unrelated matter, which has since been dropped.

But during their search they also found a further six driving licences that had been reported to the DVLA as having been lost or stolen and a number of bank cards.

They included the driving licence and bank and credit cards belonging to a lady named Philippa Holdright.

When officers contacted her she revealed that the items had been in a purse which had gone missing from her handbag during a night out in Leamington in October 2015.

One of the places she and her friends had been that night was the Indus Restaurant in Bath Street, where Anwar was the manager at the time, and where she had left her bag on the floor.

The police had also recovered a student card and driving licence belonging to Warwick University student George Cooper, who had lost them on a night out in February 2015, said Mrs Cairns.

When Anwar was questioned about the licences and bank cards, he at first said he had found them in the street at various times, and had been going to return them to the banks or the DVLA.

But in court he claimed they had been confiscated from people who had tried to use them in the restaurant, but had been declined when he had put them in the card reader – so he had held them with the intention of passing them to the police.

After the jury unanimously rejected his account, Alistair Polson, defending, said Anwar had taken over the management of the Indus Restaurant and had been planning to buy out the owner.

The court heard how Anwar had spent £10,000 on refurbishing it, and was just two or three weeks away from taking over the business when he was arrested – and he said that as a result of a police search of the premises, £2,500 worth of damage was caused.

“As a result of that, he lost the business and lost all of that money he had spent on it, and is currently working as a delivery driver for a Chinese restaurant.”

Mr Polson added that, although Anwar had previous convictions for dishonesty, including the use of bank cards, the robbery was out of character.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told Anwar: “I am satisfied you are a man who has a propensity to take and hold cards. You have made up a totally false story about your possession of the cards, and you also came into possession of other cards.

“In respect of Mrs Holdright, there is no doubt in my mind that you took the purse from her handbag when it was there in your restaurant when you were purporting to serve her.

“You have lost a business which was relatively successful as a result - but sadly you used that business in a way which was a conduit for these offences.”