Man cleared of stealing from Lidl supermarket due to lack of evidence

Man cleared of stealing from and defrauding supermarket chain Lidl due to lack of evidence

File photo
File photo

An Italian man from St. Paul’s Bay who, together with an alleged insider accomplice, would pay a pittance for trolley loads of goods has been cleared of stealing from and defrauding supermarket chain Lidl due to lack of evidence.

42-year-old Vincenzo Maniscalco was found not guilty of theft, complicity in misappropriation and fraud by magistrate Simone Grech. 

Maniscalco was accused of having an agreement with an Italian woman who worked as a cashier at Lidl in Zejtun, whereby his shopping would not be “punched” into the system or only a few cents worths of items would be registered.

The cashier had pleaded guilty at an early stage of the proceedings and had been conditionally discharged for two years. She later left Malta.

 The prosecution had alleged that large sums of money were lost, with Maniscalco taking between €300 and €400 worth of items at a time,  but paying around 29c to €1.50. This happened around 32 times between July 2017 and February 2018.

Maniscalco and his alleged accomplice had worked together at Malta Public Transport as drivers at the same time, the prosecution added.

The court, however, found insufficient evidence to convict after the accused claimed that he didn’t know the woman, who the prosecution did not summon as a witness.

Magistrate Grech said that the level of evidence produced was not sufficient to convince the court of the man’s guilt.

The court said that the accused had placed all the objects he had taken off the shelf on the conveyor belt to be scanned and had paid the amount requested.

The court observed that the prosecution was “indecisive from the beginning” about what charges to press, and this showed in the fact that he was accused of theft, complicity in misappropriation and fraud.

The court said it was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the elements of the crime of theft were present. “He placed all the objects he had taken off the shelves on the conveyor belt and then paid the amount requested by the cashier. This court, in the absence of evidence from the prosecution that there was some sort of arrangement between the cashier and the accused, cannot arrive at the moral conviction necessary to find guilt…”

No investigation on the contents of the cash register had been carried out with the aim of ascertaining whether the accused had paid, but the money had been held by the cashier, said the court, ruling that it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had participated in the cashier’s criminal intent and no pact or understanding was proven between the two.

Maniscalco was cleared of all charges.

Lawyer David Gatt was defence counsel.