Larnaca Criminal Court on Thursday handed down a three-year suspended jail sentence to a 43-year old woman who had pleaded guilty to 18 charges of money laundering, theft, securing goods under false pretenses and issuing a cheque without collateral.
The court said that a custodial sentence was appropriate. But, taking into consideration her personal circumstances and particularly her pregnancy, it decided to exercise its discretionary power and suspend the jail sentence.
The 43-year-old woman was charged after her step-niece filed a complaint with police that she had given her €12,000 for a guaranteed investment in 2013.
Over the years, the complainant gave her another €26,000 for the same investment. In 2016 the defendant said more money was needed to ensure that the investment was guaranteed, with the complainant handing over another €25,000, including €10,000 in cash gifts from her wedding.
In 2017, the victim and her husband asked the defendant to help them buy a car – giving her €7,600. By January 2018, and with no car delivered the couple contacted the defendant who said that ship’s cargo had been returned because there were problems with stolen cars being exported from the UK.
The couple became suspicious and asked for documentation on their investment. The 43-year-old presented a document showing a balance of €111,000. But as the victims lost confidence, she reported the issue to the police who arrested the defendant in April 2018.
During their investigation, police found that there were no investment schemes nor had any money been deposited on behalf of the victim.
In handing down its sentence, the Criminal Court took into consideration the fact that the woman had pleaded guilty, her clean record, her age, family and personal circumstances, her remorse and compensation of the victim. She had made amends and the complainant had asked the case not continue.
The court said it did not overlook the defendant’s criminal behaviour and calculated way in which she has acted. The appropriate sentence is a custodial sentence. It handed down jail terms, to run concurrently, with the maximum at three years but said that taking into consideration her personal circumstances and particularly her pregnancy, it had decided to suspend the sentence for three years.