The Malta Independent 20 March 2019, Wednesday

Three people arraigned over string of thefts from Mgarr restaurant

Friday, 11 January 2019, 17:50 Last update: about 3 months ago

Three people have been arraigned on charges relating to a number of thefts from an Mgarr restaurant.

The accused: a 19 year-old and his 34-year-old mother were accused of four counts of aggravated theft before magistrate Simone Grech this afternoon.

Inspectors Shawn Pawney, Mario Xiberras and Godwin Scerri charged Maria Pia Zammit and her son Leon with robbing the restaurant in a crime aggravated by violence, means, person and time.

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The same restaurant was robbed three times between November 17 and December 13, according to the police. The pair were also accused of stealing jewellery from a house in St. Paul’s Bay on New Year’s Eve.

The mother, Maria Pia Zammit, from Lija, pleaded not guilty to theft, aggravated by violence, means place and time. She was in tears for the majority of the sitting. Her son pleaded guilty.

The court, in view of an admission by the male accused, gave him time to reconsider, but he repeated his guilty plea when asked again by the court. The court upheld a request for a presentencing report, made by the defence.

The prosecution objected to a request for bail pending the completion of that report. Lawyer Rachel Tua argued that the man had a clean criminal record and had cooperated with the police. He would lose his job if he is remanded in custody, she said.

The principal witnesses had all approached the defence and said they were ready to forgive him, after the payments are made, explained the lawyer. The accused’s grandfather was present in court and wanted to be a guarantor for the accused, she said, as the youth lacked the financial means for a large deposit.

Bail was granted pending the drawing up of a presentencing report. He was ordered to sign a bail book daily, observe a curfew and deposit €4000 and a personal guarantee of €15000

Tua asked the court to order a ban on the publication of the names of the accused as “every time they are being arraigned, they are losing their jobs.” One of the reasons bail was requested was, precisely to avoid the accused losing his job, she said.

The prosecution, however, said the request was not within the legal parameters required for a ban on publication. The court rejected the request for a ban on the publication of the man’s name.

In the case against Maria Pia Zammit, lawyer Rachel Tua requested bail. There was a previous conviction but the crime featured in today’s charges pre-dates her conviction, the court was told. Bail was refused, however.

In a separate arraignment, their 18 year-old getaway driver, Samuel Gauci, was arraigned on charges of complicity in the thefts. Legal aid lawyer Fransina Abela entered a guilty plea. The man was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for 4 years.

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