Armed robber who offered shopkeeper sex with wife in lieu of payment avoids prison

Man who stole from a grocery store cash register avoids prison after showing court he was seeking professional help  

File Photo
File Photo

A man who stole a cash register from a grocery store at gunpoint, has avoided prison after showing the court that he was seeking professional help to change his ways.

49-year-old Themistocles Attard of Birżebbuġa was arrested in December 2018 on suspicion of being involved in an armed robbery at a Sta Venera store earlier that month. 

An armed robber had targeted the shop on the evening of December 8, taking the cash register which contained around €500 in cash.

But the court heard that it had not been the first time the accused had visited the scene of the crime. Earlier that day, he had called at the store twice, each time taking items off the shelves and telling the cashier that he could not afford to pay the bill in the conventional manner, but instead offering sex with his wife and another woman as payment.

The shopkeeper had not accepted the offer and later that evening, the accused had returned, holding a firearm and robbing the shop owner at gunpoint.

Attard had initially denied the charges of aggravated theft, holding his victim against his will, unlawful and unlicensed possession of a firearm, voluntary damage to third party property exceeding €250 and relapsing.

But as time passed and the case moved on, Attard changed his mind, filing a guilty plea earlier this month, confirming it after being given time by the court, to reconsider.

The court heard Attard’s probation officer report that the man had overcome his drug addiction and was under the care of a psychologist.

The accused had found stable employment and was even planning to set up his own business, the court was told.

Taking all this into account as well as the fact that the charges did not involve a jail term of over seven years, the court observed that the accused qualified for a probation order, placing him under one for three years.

It explained the consequences of breaching the conditions imposed by the probation order to the accused.

The court also imposed a €698.81 fine for carrying the unlicensed weapon in public and ordered the accused to pay his victim €440.60 by way of expenses.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Lydon Zammit and Stacy Gatt prosecuted.  Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri were defence counsel.