Man accused of stealing priest's car during mass

Unaware that his car is stolen, startled priest receives police phone call to inform him that his car had been involved in an accident

The man stole the priest's car keys from inside the sacristy and drove off, only to be involved in a car crash
The man stole the priest's car keys from inside the sacristy and drove off, only to be involved in a car crash

A man has denied charges of theft after allegedly stealing a priest’s car whilst he was saying mass.

Inspector Fabian Fleri told Magistrate Nadine Lia on Tuesday that it was a surprised cleric who had received a call from the police about an accident at Marsa involving his car.

The accident happened on 5 February when the priest had not even realised that it had been stolen yet.

Homeless Dylan Degiorgio, 26, was arraigned in court and accused of stealing a Toyota Vitz from outside the Church of the Holy Cross in Żabbar, stealing the car keys from inside the church, negligently damaging the vehicle and a third party’s car as well as recidivism. Degiorgio is understood to have previously been jailed for theft.

Inspector Fabian Fleri, prosecuting together with Inspector Lydon Zammit, told the court that the man had stolen the car and a few minutes later had crashed it. The priest had told the police that the man had approached him at church asking for money as he was hard up and, whilst he had been getting his wallet, had stolen the keys.

After crashing, Degiorgio had allegedly told the owner of the other vehicle that his name was Emanuel Cuschieri. But a CCTV camera captured him opening the parked car. The car crash victim had also taken a photo of him and he was identified.

He was traced to Bormla and picked up by the police. The man has a “big drug problem” said the inspector.

The accused pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Victor Bugeja, requested that the court recommend the man be held at the forensic unit at Mount Carmel Hospital and receive assistance for drug dependency.

“After two years in prison and ending up homeless, I found all my family’s doors closed. It’s no joke. It should be the best day of your life, leaving prison,” wept the accused as the sitting ended.

The magistrate suggested he address his drug problem first. “It’s not a problem, it’s an illness,” he said, breaking down in tears.