Bar room phone thief, captured on CCTV, pleads guilty

A Romanian man admitted to stealing a woman’s mobile phone from a bar after being caught on CCTV and arrested

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
19 September 2017, 3:30pm
'The man had been identified from CCTV footage, which clearly showed him stealing the device from the bar, as its owner’s back was turned', said inspector Godwin Scerri
'The man had been identified from CCTV footage, which clearly showed him stealing the device from the bar, as its owner’s back was turned', said inspector Godwin Scerri
28-year-old Daniel Gheorghe State was arraigned under arrest before Magistrate Aaron Bugeja this morning, accused of having stolen a mobile phone from Incognito Bar in St. Paul’s Bay.

Inspector Godwin Scerri explained how the man had been identified from CCTV footage, which clearly showed him stealing the device from the bar, as its owner’s back was turned. Inspector Scerri added that the stolen Samsung, which was worth “around €250”, was not recovered.

State, who appeared in court assisted by an interpreter, was charged with theft that was aggravated by value of the object stolen, and the time at which the crime was committed.

Defence lawyer Leontine Calleja did not contest the legal and factual reasons for the arrest, which was deemed justified by the court.

The court read the accused his rights. “Before this court you have the right to remain silent, right to a lawyer and to testify at the appropriate time of these proceedings, however be aware that anything you say may be taken against you as evidence and so I remind you of the right to remain silent.”

The accused, who had been staying at the Hotel Bugibba for three weeks, said he works in Malta as a carpenter and was due to leave Malta in a week’s time.

After consulting with his lawyer, the accused pleaded guilty, reiterating it despite being offered the opportunity to retract his confession.

The accused told the police that he was prepared to pay this sum to the victim, Inspector Scerri said, adding that he had cooperated with the police investigation. A suspended sentence, coupled with a restitution order was suggested.

Calleja argued that a conditional discharge was merited in the circumstances - the accused had consumed alcohol at the time, had fully cooperated with the police and admitted the charge at the first opportunity. He had no intention to steal the mobile in question, but had taken it by mistake, she submitted, confirming that the man was prepared to compensate the victim for the loss of the phone.

Finding him guilty on his own admission, the court sentenced the man to 12 months imprisonment which it suspended for two years, warning him that if he committed another crime punishable by imprisonment during that period, this sentence would be put into effect.

The court also ordered the man to pay the owner of the stolen phone the sum of €250.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...