The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

Man who used fake bomb to hold up 5 outlets remanded in custody

Monday, 20 January 2020, 14:28 Last update: about 2 months ago

A man who used a knife and a fake bomb to hold up five different commercial premises, including two hotels – which had to be evacuated – has been remanded in custody this afternoon.

Allister Camilleri, 39, from Marsa, pleaded not guilty to 27 charges which included theft aggravated by violence, means and value.

It is understood that Camilleri would pull out a knife and use it to demand money from his victims, before placing a heavy cardboard box containing a “bomb” on the counter and telling them that he would detonate it if they called the police after he left.

The box would, in fact contain an inert weight, police said, but this could only be ascertained after evacuating residents and customers and then carrying out controlled explosions.

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The “bombs” were all traced back to Camilleri, who was caught despite being extremely careful as to where he obtained them from, a source involved in the investigation said.

Besides the aggravated theft charges, Camilleri was also charged with illegal arrest, carrying a knife during the commission of the offence, driving a car with stolen number plates, stealing the numberplates and failing to observe his bail conditions. He was further accused of recidivism.

Before the brief sitting today, Camilleri unsuccessfully tried to get the police to order the press out of the courtroom and was abusive towards the small group of reporters who were covering his arraignment.

Lawyer Benjamin Valenzia, appointed by the court as legal aid to the accused did not request bail.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Lydon Zammit, Kylie Borg and Colin Sheldon prosecuted.

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