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Algerian national caught with “an Aladdin's cave” of stolen phones

Khaled Benfares
Khaled Benfares

An Algerian national who was caught with 17 stolen mobile phones in what was described as “an Aladdin's cave” has avoided jail after receiving a suspended sentence.

Khaled Benfares (32) told gardaí that a named man had left the phones there but was unable to provide them with any contact details for him.

Benfares of South Circular Road, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight sample charges of being in possession of phones knowing or being reckless as to whether they were stolen at Grove Park, Rathmines on June 25, 2013.

He had claimed he had first met this person on a street, they had gone for coffee together and the man then began to visit his flat regularly and leaving the phones there. He said he had no phone contact for him as he regularly changed his number.

Benfares later accepted that although he had not stolen the phones he did think the fact that his acquaintance was leaving so many behind was suspicious.

The phones had been stolen on various dates that year mainly from nightclubs in Galway, Cork and Dublin.

He has no previous convictions and is currently seeking refugee status in Ireland having come here first in 2011.

Judge Martin Nolan suspended a sentence of two years and noted that life in prison here would be more difficult for Benfares because he is a foreign national.

Dean Kelly BL, defending, told Judge Nolan that his client “turned his face away” and accepted that he had been keeping company with criminals.

“He knew there was something up and he chose not to ask and his friend chose not to say,” counsel said before he added that Benfares allowed his home to be used “as a place where others could store their ill-gotten gains”.

Garda Robert Leavy told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that gardaí raided Benfares' Rathmines flat following a tip off. They forced open the door, after Benfares refused to let them in, and discovered what counsel described as “an Aladdin's cave”.

Benfares was arrested and interviewed five times during which he accepted that this man had left the phones behind and he allowed him to leave them there.

He claimed that the Sunday prior to the garda raid he had asked the man to take the phones away because he was worried about them being in his home.