International thief Yuri Harris jailed for seven years

Wesley Johnson,Press Association
Friday 09 April 2010 12:52 BST

A sophisticated, international, professional thief who targeted rich victims including a Saudi prince was jailed for seven years today.

Recorder William Boyce QC told career criminal Yuri Harris, 48, he had no doubt that he would remain a thief "for the rest of your life".

Harris led a gang that targeted rich victims in areas where they would have been off their guard, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

But he was caught when senior police officers recognised him at a jewellery fair at Earl's Court exhibition centre in London on September 7 last year.

His accomplice Maher Ghalaini, 50, was jailed for four years.

Sentencing Harris, Recorder William Boyce said: "I've no doubt at all that you are an incorrigible life-long career professional thief.

"You started at the age of 15 and you are now aged 48.

"I'm satisfied you conducted your entire life by preying on other people and their property.

"As you have regressed in to maturity you have developed a high degree of professionalism.

"You have recruited others to carry out offences in this country and abroad.

"You show no remorse and no attrition for the acts you carry out.

"I have every reason to believe you will carry on being a thief for the rest of your life.

"However, I do not punish you for the future, I punish you for the past."

The judge added that his sentence had to focus "on punishment, and possibly deterrence, but I doubt it".

Harris smirked and shook his head as he was sent down.

Earlier, Harris and Ghalaini laughed with each other in the dock as the judge read out "a whole host of very severe aggravating features".

The judge said: "This is not a typical case of theft."

He said the two men were "sophisticated, international jewellery thieves and they were operating as a team".

"They planned their forays into expensive areas to commit pre-planned thefts," he said.

"In my view this is a whole world away from ordinary pick-pocketing, a world away from West End pick-pocketing or snatching."

Both men had a long criminal history of thefts dating back more than 30 years, the court heard.

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