Former Mint employee who hid stolen gold in rectum sentenced to 30 months
Published Thursday, February 2, 2017 5:01AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:27AM EST
The former Royal Canadian Mint employee who stole thousands of dollars’ worth of gold “pucks” by hiding them in his rectum has been sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
Leston Lawrence, 38, of Barrhaven, Ont. was found guilty of theft over $5,000 in November. The Ontario Court judge, Peter Doody, ruled that the former Mint employee had stolen 22 gold pucks worth $165,451.14. He was also convicted of possession of property obtained by crime, smuggling gold from the mint, laundering proceeds of crime and breach of trust by a public official.
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 told the court that a penitentiary term was needed to deter others. Lawrence’s lawyer had pushed for an 18-month sentence for his client. The Crown was seeking a three-year sentence.
CTV News’ Omar Sachedina reported that Lawrence delivered a brief statement thanking the judge for his sentence on Thursday morning. He said the former Mint employee stayed quiet and kept his head down during most of the court proceedings.
Sachedina also said that Lawrence would be required to pay back the market value of the gold he stole, which amounted to $190,000. Lawrence has three years after he’s completed his sentence to pay back the money or he will have to spend another two years and six months in prison, Sachedina said.
Lawrence worked at the mint from 2008 until March 2015. During that time, he purified gold in a process that involved creating the pucks. The court heard that he sometimes worked alone and out of sight of security cameras.
Security footage showed the former employee setting off metal detectors at security checkpoints 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, Doody said in his ruling that Lawrence set off the metal detector more often than any other Mint employee.
Lawrence was eventually caught after police were tipped off from a bank employee in February 2015 when he asked to cash two cheques worth $15,200. The court heard that Lawrence had told the bank teller he had sold “gold nuggets.” The police put him under surveillance after the teller reported the unusual transaction.
Police eventually seized a gold puck Lawrence sold and discovered four more in his safety deposit box. They alsofound Vaseline and latex gloves in his locker, which the judge said "could have been used to facilitate insertion of gold items inside his rectum."
With files from The Canadian Press