Motorcyclist handed suspended sentence over snatch and grab theft

A man has been handed a suspended sentence over a motorcycle-borne snatch and grab theft in Sliema last year, whilst his alleged accomplice has been cleared of all charges

An Italian man has been handed a suspended sentence over a motorcycle-borne snatch and grab theft in Sliema last year, whilst his alleged accomplice has been cleared of all charges.

Daniele Landolfi, 31 and Francesco Tanzi, 38, both from Naples, had been accused of criminal conspiracy, stealing a wristwatch, driving a motorcycle without insurance and relapsing.

The theft took place in Dingli Street, Sliema, on 23 February 2020, when the men, who were riding a motorcycle, allegedly snatched a Rolex wristwatch off the wrist of a pedestrian and drove off. The men were thought to be part of a criminal gang who had chosen their victim as he dined at a restaurant. He was followed out onto the street, where the theft took place.

The men, who denied the charges, had arrived in Malta a few days before the crime took place and had their return trip booked for the day after.

Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, in deciding the case, made several references to legal scholars on the issue of evidence.

She noted that the case was built on circumstantial evidence, where the registration number of the motorcycle led to the arrest of the two men. CCTV footage showed the victim, wearing the stolen €17,000 Rolex wristwatch, being watched by a person who was in the company of the two accused.

But the court said that although the pictures had been enlarged, it was not in a position to confirm without a shadow of a doubt that this was the stolen watch, adding that the prosecution had not asked its owner to identify it in court from the footage. “Although it is being indicated that in the same photograph, the strap is torn, in this case, because nobody confirmed that this is the same watch…it cannot be the court who confirms it. Although the police investigation arrived at who had a watch in his hand, it cannot be said that this is clear evidence of it being the same watch.” The court said it had to be morally convinced of the evidence before convicting.

The only direct evidence, in this case, was the white motorcycle used in the crime, which had been rented to a person using an identification document in the name of Giuseppe Viscardi. The police discovered that the document was falsified as the person who really rented the motorcycle was a certain Gennaro Todesco.

The accused, Francesco Tanzi, had accompanied Todesco when the bike was being rented but did not sign any documents. The owner of the motorbike had testified that it was Daniele Landolfi who rented it but had pointed out Tanzi in the courtroom, as that person.

While the police had been talking to the owner, they were informed that another motorcycle had passed by on which two persons were riding, one of whom being the person who had rented the bike.

The two persons on the bike – Tanzi and Landolfi- were arrested and it emerged that that bike had also been rented out to a Giuseppe Viscardi, but from another rental company.

A search of their shared apartment in St Julian’s showed that two other people also lived there, but had fled before the police arrived. Clothing possibly used in the theft was found at the apartment.

The victim was unable to positively identify the accused, as the robber had been wearing a crash helmet during the crime.

The Rolex was, eventually, returned directly to the victim, without the involvement of the police.

Landolfi was positively identified from CCTV as the person operating the motorcycle, and therefore there was no doubt as to his guilt, said the court, finding him guilty of aggravated theft.

Landolfi was sentenced to imprisonment for two years suspended for four. Tanzi was cleared of all charges.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Lydon Zammit and Jonathan Ransley prosecuted the men.

Lawyer Roberto Montalto appeared for Landolfi. Lawyers Ezekiel Psaila and Dustin Camilleri represented Tanzi.