Man jailed after police trace him to Johnnie Walker statue theft

A man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for smashing into parked cars and stealing electronics and construction tools

A stolen statue of whiskey icon Johnnie Walker led the police to identify a thief who smashed his way into parked cars to steal electronics and construction tools.

A court had heard how plasterer Ivan Galea, 46, from Valletta, was just out of prison when he decided to steal the statue from a shop window in St. Paul’s Street, Valletta. CCTV of the burglary led the police to connect Galea to two other thefts. Both occurred on 23 July in Valletta.

The targets were parked cars – from one Alfa Romeo, Galea stole a bag containing a MacBook and other electronics. He had also helped himself to an industrial sander from inside a Toyota van parked in a nearby street.

Later arrested and faced with incontrovertible evidence of his guilt, Galea had confessed to the police and returned the stolen items.

Before magistrate Joe Mifsud this morning, Inspector Priscilla Caruana Lee charged the man with several counts of theft, aggravated by value and the nature of the thing stolen. He was also charged with causing damage to the cars.

Defence lawyer Jason Grima said the man wanted to plead guilty in return for minimum punishment, but the man interrupted, saying he had changed his mind and was going to deny the charges.

The court pointed out that he would not be eligible for a minimum punishment if he did so.

After consulting with his lawyer, he pleaded guilty.

In handing down punishment, Magistrate Mifsud took into account the man’s early guilty plea, the fact that the stolen items had been returned to the police, the cooperation of the accused with the police and the man’s lengthy criminal record.

Galea was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The court appealed to the accused to use his time behind bars to decide once and for all to change his ways and emerge from jail as a “worthy citizen.”

The court asked the prison authorities to allow Galea to work in prison workshops and outside the prison, under supervision. Magistrate Mifsud also said he wanted to see him on a prisoners’ pilgrimage to Ta Pinu, which will be happening soon.

“Do it right this time; I don’t want to see you back in prison,” chided the magistrate.