Man charged with theft less than a month after release from prison

He was stopped by shop staff whilst allegedly trying to detach sports watches from a display stand

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A man from Marsa has been remanded in custody after being charged with stealing watches and clothes from a Qormi sportswear shop, less than a month after being released from prison.

Kersten Catania, 30, was stopped by shop staff whilst allegedly trying to detach sports watches from a display stand after being seen to place several items of clothing in a shopping bag. The police arrested him shortly after.

Catania, a karozzin driver, was arraigned before magistrate Leonard Caruana, accused of aggravated theft, carrying a knife in public without a licence, breaching the peace, uttering insults and threats in public and recidivism. Inspector Clayton Camilleri told the court that the total cost price of the items found in the man’s bag was in excess of €1,500.

Defence counsel Mario Caruana asked for bail, after the accused entered a not guilty plea.

The lawyer emphasised  the humanitarian aspect of the case in his bail submissions. “The accused made mistakes in the past and has paid for these mistakes. In fact he is just leaving Corradino prison. There we know he was in contact with other prisoners and wasn’t given a great example. He has an obligation to maintain his five year-old daughter and is working as a karozzin driver.

“Without casting aspersions on the prison system, I don’t think it adequately prepares inmates for life on the outside,” submitted the lawyer. He had also picked up a drug habit, Caruana added, suggesting that if the court decides to deny bail, his client should be held at the forensic unit at Mount Carmel hospital instead of prison.

“If I go to prison, I’ll be back to square one,” the accused told the court.

Inspector Camilleri objected to bail, emphasising there were civilian witnesses who are yet to testify and that the accused lives very close to where the incident took place. “Also, his criminal record speaks for itself.” Sources told this newspaper that the accused had previously been expelled from rehab after being found abusing drugs during the program.

The magistrate, after hearing the parties’ submissions on bail, ordered that the man be remanded in custody, in view of the pending witness testimony and the proximity of his home to the place where the alleged crimes took place, as well as his tainted criminal record. He pointed out that the alleged offences took place less than a month after the man’s release from prison.

The accused explained to the court he had problems with drug abuse and asked it to make a recommendation to the prison director to take the necessary steps to treat him.