School burglar with drug problem gets two years probation

Court hears how man was trying to steal from a school to feed his family after spending all his money on drugs

A burglar who was caught in the act as he attempted to steal from a school was trying to feed his family after spending all his money on drugs, a court has heard.

The accused, a 38-year-old air conditioner installer, from Santa Lucija, was arraigned before magistrate Josette Demicoli this morning, charged with attempted theft, aggravated by means, time and value.

The court heard how the man, who cannot be named by court order, was arrested in the act “like a rabbit in the headlights,” as he broke into the school in his home town past midnight on the 31st May, attempting to make off with brass ducting material. No other details about the crime emerged.

He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

The Court observed that the charges of attempted theft could lead to prison, but there could be several other punishments as he had a clean criminal record.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi said he had advised his client to plead guilty as it was not right to waste court time when the facts were as clear as they are.

Azzopardi praised Inspector Camilleri, who he said, was not after the “pound of flesh” but wanted the long-term benefit of the accused and society.

The accused has a drug problem, said the lawyer, adding that he would lose his job if incarcerated, pointing out that he has a 7-year-old son. Explaining that the man wanted to submit to drug rehabilitation, Azzopardi suggested probation as this was the accused’s first offence and only an attempted crime.

Azzopardi asked for a ban on the publication of the man’s name, which was granted by the court.

It could be a blessing in disguise for the accused, said the lawyer. He had been caught in the act and no damage to the school had been made. The prospect of a certain prison sentence would act as a deterrent to further crimes.

Inspector Paul Camilleri, prosecuting, said the crime was the result of drug cravings, as he had spent all his money on his drug habit and needed cash to feed his family.

The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years’ probation. The court explained the importance of this, which included drug testing of the accused. “You’re getting your chance now. If you disobey your probation officer you will go to prison.”