Necklace thief who terrorised elderly women is jailed for 32 months

The man was found guilty of carrying out seven snatch and grab thefts from different elderly women

A court has handed a 32 month sentence to a habitual criminal who would terrorise elderly women, snatching their necklaces before escaping.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello found Tony Zammit guilty of having carried out seven snatch and grab thefts from elderly women. Zammit was originally accused of eight counts of aggravated thefts which occurred between October 4 and 18, in 2018 in several localities in Malta.

Zammit targeted elderly women, the majority of whom were over 80.

The victims testified how they had been approached by a man whom they did not know, who greeted them with a "Bonġu" (good morning) or asked for directions, to distract them before pulling off their necklaces.

One 73-year-old victim, had told the court how she had fought back when she was attacked by a hooded man who stole her necklace whilst she was crossing the road in Santa Venera, hitting her assailant with her umbrella.

Other victims were not so lucky, falling over when their necklace was pulled off their necks. One elderly woman told the court that she was so traumatised by the incident that she would not go out.

The police exhibited CCTV footage of the thefts taken from several localities and also explained how clothing retrieved from the accused's Żejtun residence matched the victims’ descriptions and was corroborated by the footage.

In sentencing Zammit, Magistrate Rachel Montebello observed that he had a history of acute drug abuse and that his criminal record showed that he had been jailed several times before, on theft convictions. The magistrate also observed that the man had targeted elderly, vulnerable persons.

The court jailed Zammit for 32 months, ordering him to compensate the victims for the items he had stolen and to pay €2,415 in court costs. The court also seized his car, which he had used in some of the thefts.

Police inspectors Lydon Zammit, Fabian Fleri and Sarah Zerafa prosecuted.