Friends ‘lookalike’ thief jailed for nine months

Friends ‘lookalike’ thief jailed for nine months

A “lookalike” of Friends actor David Schwimmer has been jailed for nine months for theft and fraud offences.

Abdulah Husseini, 36, described in court as a “travelling, wandering, nomadic thief”, used a stolen bank card to make or attempt to make fraudulent purchases at four shops in Blackpool, Lancashire, last September.

He had walked into an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in the resort and swiped a wallet from a customer’s jacket while he was away from his table.

Abdulah Husseini (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)
Abdulah Husseini (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)

Shortly after, he began trying to use the card from the wallet and made two successful purchases at nearby stores before CCTV showed him carrying cans of beers to the till at an Iceland store, Burnley Crown Court heard.

A month later, Blackpool Police posted the captured CCTV image on its Facebook page in an appeal to trace the offender.

The post subsequently went went viral with more than 11 million shares and 30,000 comments as members of the public pointed out the suspect’s likeness to Schwimmer’s character Ross Geller in the popular US sitcom.

Schwimmer then posted a video to his Twitter account that showed him scurrying through a convenience store carrying a carton of beer before looking up furtively at a CCTV camera.

He captioned the video: “Officers, I swear it wasn’t me. As you can see, I was in New York.

“To the hardworking Blackpool Police, good luck with the investigation.”

He added the hashtag #itwasntme to the post.

On Thursday, Husseini was convicted by a jury after a two-day trial of one count of theft and four counts of fraud by false representation.

He was then sentenced by Judge Sara Dodd, who told him he had an “appalling criminal history” and that he was “an habitual thief”.

Husseini, an Iranian national, has 32 previous convictions for 60 offences since 2008, including 27 offences for theft and dishonesty.

The defendant, from Slough, travelled throughout the country to commit offences in England, Scotland and Wales, the court heard.

Prosecutor Andy Scott said: “He is a travelling, wandering, nomadic thief and he is a consistent thief with an affinity to steal alcohol.”

Husseini has been remanded in custody since he served an 18-week jail term imposed at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court in January for offences of handling stolen goods, theft and possession of a knife.

Judge Dodd told him he “may be released very soon” on licence after he had effectively already served half his nine-month term awaiting the trial.

- Press Association

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