A 27-year-old man from Floriana, James Agius, has been sent to prison for 30 months after he admitted to the breaking and entering of a residence belonging to a 77-year old woman and stealing jewellery.
He was not acting alone, but together with the help of a minor. The theft took place at around 2pm on 19 November 2013, at Santa Ursola Street, Valletta.
Mr Agius was brought before the courts after the minor complicit in the crime passed on his name to the police. In a separate case, the minor admitted guilt and was condemned to a 24 month prison term, suspended to 3 years.
The accused admitted to all 5 charges brought against him, namely the theft of jewellery from the residence of Doris Vella, possession of stolen clothes, causing slight injury to Mrs Vella, holding her against her will and lastly causing her undue stress.
Magistrate Aaron Bugeja presided over the case. Before handing down its sentence, the court took into consideration a number of factors, such as Mr Agius’ admission of guilt early on, so much so that the court had already heard most of the evidence related to the case.
One of the witnesses, Mrs Vella, who had already testified said that on the day of the incident she had left her home to hear mass. She said that after the sermon she had quickly stopped at a grocery store. The courts heard that she then went home, she put her food items in the fridge, noticing nothing wrong. She then went upstairs to change her clothes which is when she came face to face with the accused and those complicit in the crime.
Mrs Vella said that in that moment, they had thrown her onto the bed and covered her moth with tape. “I told them to leave me alone, but one of them, who was quite tall, ordered me to stop shouting.”
She said that the two had stolen her gold chains and also yanked her necklace from her throat. In addition to this, she said that they tied her hands and legs with tape. She said that she slowly managed to remove the tape from her mouth, however was unable to free her hands and legs, which is why she had to drag herself to the telephone so that she could notify the police of what had happened.
The pair fled the scene, and were unidentifiable to Mrs Vella due to the large glasses they were wearing, the court heard.
For this reason the court held that Mrs Vella was a victim of aggression, and that although those involved had acted in good faith by admitting to guilt early on, the incident had grave consequences for the victim.
Mrs Vella was in fact confirmed as suffering from mild anxiety.
The court continued by highlighting that the incident could have ended up much worse off for the victim, mainly due to the use of tape to subdue her. It added that this could have easily ended up cutting off the victim’s breath, and possibly suffocating her.
The fact that the accused had paid the victim €1,100 shows that up to a certain point, an element of remorse for his actions has been shown.
One the other hand, the court also considered the case 6 years ago when the accused had been found guilty of gravely injuring a person, which resulted in him being placed on probation. For this reason, the court held that Mr Agius had already been given a chance to repent and reform.
The prosecution was represented by Inspector Carlos Cordina, while lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili represented the legal defence team.