A Jordanian national who kicked a female jewellery store employee unconscious in a vicious attack during a botched US$10 million robbery was jailed for five years at Hong Kong’s High Court on Tuesday.
Mohammad Ali Mousa Alzueinat, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in connection with the incident at M&B Diamonds in the Central district of the city last year.
The thief, who had been in Hong Kong for just 24 hours before the raid, was caught in the act by police after triggering the security system and getting locked inside the shop. But he swallowed seven diamonds before officers arrived, in an attempt to get away with his crime.
Jailing the Jordanian, who travelled to the city via Turkey and Dubai, Deputy Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang said the man had travelled to the city with the sole purpose of committing the crime, and condemned the violence he unleashed on the female employee, Chu Sau-ling.
The court heard Chu was subjected to a “ruthless and violent” attack, in which Alzueinat punched her so hard one of her contact lenses fell out, before kicking and stomping on her head, leaving her unconscious.
Although Chu suffered no permanent injuries, the judge said: “Attacking a lone female was cowardly, and did make the aggravating factors more serious. There can be no doubt that the assault on her was ruthless and violent.”
During the robbery at the Wellington Street store on July 27, Alzueinat took 15 diamonds and one diamond ring valued in total at US$9.8 million, cash totalling HK$107,933 in Hong Kong and US dollars, and three mobile phones.
Police found everything at the scene, except the diamonds Alzueinat had swallowed, which were recovered several days later.
Six more diamonds, valued at US$3.4 million, were also said to have disappeared around the time of the robbery, but Alzueinat was not charged with taking those.
Senior public prosecutor Grace Chan described how well planned the robbery had been, with Alzueinat contacting the store about a week before via his Instagram account, claiming to be an investor from Dubai.
On the morning of the robbery, Alzueinat arrived at the store and told staff he had a client who would like to spend as much as US$800,000 on diamonds for investment.
He left, and returned when Chu, an administrative assistant, was left alone while other staff members went out for lunch.
The Jordanian then launched his vicious attack on the woman, knocking her to the floor and kicking her unconscious.
Alzueinat then raided the shop, Chan said, and found a key to one of the safes, allowing him to steal the diamonds.
However, the act also triggered the security system, locking him inside and alerting Chu’s manager, who called police.
Alzueinat was caught on the store’s security cameras swallowing the diamonds before the police arrived, and he was subsequently arrested.
In mitigation, his barrister Maurice Tracy urged Lee to show mercy. He said Alzueinat, who was deeply sorry for what he had done, was merely being opportunistic when he swallowed the diamonds.
Lee, however, was unmoved, and noted that Chu had been covered in bruises and other injuries when she was taken, semi-conscious, to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam.
The deputy judge also said Alzueinat had visited Hong Kong with the sole intention of committing the crime, and had carried out reconnaissance before the robbery, which had taken place the day after he arrived from Dubai.