Knife robber's sentence reduced on appeal

Victim had claimed to have been attacked with a penknife, which she said the accused had tried to stab her with several times

File photo
File photo

A man who robbed a woman and her friend at knifepoint two years ago has had his sentence reduced on appeal, after a judge declared most of the testimony unreliable with regards to the value of the items stolen.

In 2018 Munir Mohamed Ali Gammudi had originally been accused of the attempted murder of Michaela Attard, theft aggravated by violence, time and value of the objects stolen, carrying a knife during the commission of a crime against the person and recidivism.

The Court of Magistrates had cleared Gammudi of the knife charges and the attempted murder charge had subsequently been withdrawn by the Attorney General, but Gammudi was found guilty of the rest and jailed for 3 years, the court also imposing a protection order in favour of Attard and her friend.

But Gammudi’s lawyer, Marc Sant, had filed an appeal against this judgement, arguing that he should not have been found guilty, on account of the fact that he was “psychologically disturbed.” The punishment inflicted on the man was also too severe, argued the lawyer.

Madame justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, in her decision on the appeal, observed that the prosecution had simply relied on the victim’s say-so when quantifying the value of the objects allegedly stolen and had not sought to obtain receipts or appoint an expert to establish this value.

“Therefore the first court found itself in a position where it didn’t have an indication of the value, bearing in bind that it only had the version of the injured party which one cannot say is credible and reliable in view of the several times in which she was stopped by that court and warned about the consequences of lying under oath.” Neither had the victim been assertive about what had actually been stolen, saying things like “approximately” and “maybe”, noted the judge. These did not prove beyond reasonable doubt, said the court, concluding that therefore the aggravating factor of value did not subsist.

The court said that it agreed with the first court's finding of guilt with regards to time and violence, but said that the aggravating factor of value had not been sufficiently proven.

The judge observed that the appellant had been the subject of “disturbing psychological episodes” in the past which “certainly did not affect him positively.”

But she also noted that Gammudi had just been released from prison for theft at the time when the theft occurred.

The Court of Criminal Appeal confirmed the part of the sentence of the first court in which guilt was found over theft aggravated by time and violence, but overturned the conviction on the aggravating factor of value. For this reason, it reduced Gammudi’s sentence from 3 years imprisonment to 18 months, from which the time he spent under preventive arrest was to be deducted.

The judge ordered that a copy of the sentence be sent to the Commissioner for the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Mental Disorders and that the Prison Director safeguard his health in view of his mental health problems.

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