The Malta Independent 5 March 2024, Tuesday
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Man arrested on scaffold next to church has history of stealing, court told

Friday, 1 December 2023, 13:57 Last update: about 4 months ago

A man with a history of stealing from churches, who was found by police officers on top of scaffolding next to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Marsa, denied before a court of law that he was attempting to break in.

Hassam Anmgad Anwar Aly Elnily, 26, was charged with attempted theft and criminal damage before magistrate Abigail Critien on Friday. 

Inspector Sarah Kathleen Zerafa informed the magistrate that the Marsa police station had received a report about sounds of breaking glass at around midnight on Wednesday 29 November.

Officers who went on the scene spotted Elnily on scaffolding, some 3 storeys up. The scaffolding was in place due to ongoing restoration works at the church, she said.

Elnily was ordered to come down, and he was arrested.

Elnily told the police that he would sleep on the scaffolding and had hit the window by mistake. He said that he had been working on the restoration of the church for a few days, doing plastering work. 

But inspector Zerafa told the magistrate that the defendant couldn't have kicked the window by accident.

His claim that he was working there was not corroborated because the police had been informed by the contractors that so far the only work which had been carried out was the construction of the scaffolding. No plastering had been done.

Police found the defendant’s change of clothes and identification documents in a bag hidden inside a public latrine not far from the church. “If you sleep somewhere, you’d want to keep your belongings close,” the inspector said.

The defendant pleaded not guilty. Legal aid lawyer Martin Fenech requested bail, explaining that no evidence indicating an attempted theft had been mentioned. 

Although he currently had no fixed address, Elnily was in the process of being admitted to a homeless shelter, added the lawyer.

Lawyer Tilden Tabone, prosecuting on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General objected to bail. “He doesn’t have a fixed address right now, even though he might in future. He was also convicted for theft in the past and there is a risk of him reoffending.”

Inspector Zerafa added that Elnily had several previous convictions for stealing from churches.

The court rejected the request given the absence of a fixed address and remanded Elnily in custody.


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