Obese fraudster who blew £50,000 at luxury London hotels claimed weight problem caused memory loss
An obese fraudster who blew £50,000 feasting at luxury hotels claimed he should be spared jail because his weight problem causes memory loss.
Mahyar Bahamani, 28, booked rooms for him and his friends in hotels including the Hilton Metropole, the Athenaeum in Mayfair and Claridge's in Knightsbridge.
Using American Express cards in the names of unsuspecting US victims, he blew £49,197.68 over a six-month period while living in his mother's modest flat in Acton, west London.
Bahamani also visited the Hilton Metropole in Paddington, the Radisson Blu and the Churchill hotel, both in Portman Square.
He spent thousands of pounds at Claridge's, the Park Lane Hilton, the Intercontinental and Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotels.
He spent more than £20,000 at the luxury Athenaeum hotel, in Mayfair, and ran up a £6,000 bill at the five-star Bulgari hotel in Mayfair.
Bahamani admitted 11 counts of fraud at Southwark Crown Court, but claimed he had little memory of his crimes because of memory loss caused by sleep apnoea.
The condition, which can be caused by obesity, means the sufferer can stop breathing while sleeping, causing sleepless nights and memory loss.
"He used his own passport for identification so the evidence is overwhelming.
"On the last occasion there was a group of people with him who were causing a disturbance in the spa and the police were called.
"He wasn't present when the police arrived, but he spoke to the hotel and said he would attend to settle the bill and that telephone was registered to him and he never did return to pay."
He continued: "On 25 June he booked five different rooms at the Hilton Metropole on Edgware Road for the sum of £3,423 - that included three subsequent bookings, the last of which was in September, which was the occasion of his arrest.
"At the Radisson Blu hotel in July he opted for the penthouse and for the junior suite - there was similar activity at the Hyatt, Athenaeum, Claridge's and the Intercontinental.
"On one occasion he also attended John Lewis and bought four pairs of sunglasses for £1,289 and £900 worth of gift vouchers - the cloned credit cards can be seen on CCTV.
"He returned a few days later and bought £839 worth of sunglasses and more vouchers."
Bahamani initially claimed he had made the bookings for a friend who did not speak good English, and that he believed his friend would pay, and claimed he only had a limited memory of the hotel stays.
He later pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud totalling £50,000 at Southwark Crown Court.
Bahamani previously served a three-year sentence in a young offenders' institution for aiding and abetting causing death by dangerous driving.
Matthew Bainbridge, acting for Bahamani, said it was not a sophisticated fraud because Bahamani had used his own number and passport when booking the hotels.
He added Bahamani's previous spell in prison has given him low self-esteem, and he had committed the frauds to make friends.
"It's not true to say he's not remorseful for what he's done - he apologises to the victims and recognises that what he did was wrong.
"He's being treated by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for his weight problem and difficulty sleeping, which can cause memory loss.
"These offences were a means to present a gift to the people he was with, but it wasn't something he did intentionally for his own gain, but it was something he did - in a misguided fashion - for other people."
He continued: "He has very low self-esteem, he finds it very difficult to undertake the kind of activities we take for granted, this offending was a coping mechanism, for someone whose growing up and education was interrupted.
"He has serious difficulties in his cognitive thinking," Mr Bainbridge added.
"It's clearly an attempt by him to socialise with others in a way he hasn't been able to do. It's an attempt by him to integrate back into society."
Judge Stephen Tomlinson sentenced Bahamani to 22 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Bahamani, of (Flat 120) Meredith Tower, Hanbury Road, Acton, admitted 11 counts of fraud.
Judge Tomlinson said: "You may remain seated, because apparently it's difficult for you to have to stand for a period of time.
"I have to deal with you today on an indictment containing no less than 11 counts for offences that date back to May, June, July and August.
"It was a prolonged period during the course of which, in the main, what you were doing was using cloned American Express cards in order to gain services in hotels of way above average comfort and mainly in the west end of London and that explains the first 10 counts on this indictment.
"There's a further count where at the Kingston Branch of John Lewis you went on two consecutive days with cloned cards in order to obtain goods to the value of £4,696.
"The deficit at the series of hotels exceeded £49,000 - that's what I've been told."
Bahamani did not react as his sentence was read out, and Judge Tomlinson said: "Although your barrister tells me you are committed, I have some doubts about that - you didn't turn up on time for your interview with the author of the pre-sentence report and you didn't turn up on time today.
"This was quite a close run thing, but I have decided to suspend the sentence today - what you have to understand is that if you don't comply with the conditions that I'm going to impose you will be in breach, do you understand that?"
Bahamani was ordered to complete a 25-day 'thinking skills' programme, and was placed under a curfew between 9pm and 6am daily for the next four months.
Judge Tomlinson said: "I don't want to receive a letter from your solicitor saying that the curfew is oppressive, you deserve to go to prison today.
"If you think that a curfew is in any way onerous come back and see me and I will send you to Wandsworth instead."