by Annika Backe
February 9, 2017 – The case caused a stir throughout the world, not only among numismatic enthusiasts. Leston Lawrence had been accused of having stolen coins and blanks made of gold from his employer, the Royal Canadian Mint, and having smuggled the metal out of the facility by concealing them in his rectum. A court in Ontario has now sentenced him to prison and a considerable fine.
The scene of the event: the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, Ontario. Photo: RealGrouchy / Wikipedia.
On November 9, 2016 Lawrence was adjudged guilty of having stolen gold worth CAD 179,000 between the end of 2014 and spring 2015. Because he had sold a major part of the stolen goods afterwards, he was also convicted of money laundry and of breach of trust with the Royal Canadian Mint.
Although gold blanks had actually been found in the locker of the 35-year-old, it was impossible to prove the theft beyond doubt. However, his locker also contained vaseline and latex gloves which were strongly suggesting that he had smuggled the metal objects, each with a diameter of a golf ball and weighing more than 200 grams, out of the Mint in his rectum.
His defence lawyer argued that Lawrence could have gotten the blanks that lacked any kind of mark from anywhere. However, he was sentenced to 30 months in jail. He has been given three years to pay CAD 190,000 in restitution, from the end of his full sentence. If he does not, he will go to prison a second time.
To learn more about the spectacular incident, please read this CoinsWeekly article.