Three charged over St. Paul's Bay burglary which saw €150,000 stolen

Three men have been charged in court over the theft of €150,000 in cash and jewellery from an apartment in St. Paul’s Bay

Three men have been charged in court over the theft of €150,000 in cash and jewellery from an apartment in St. Paul’s Bay, which was broken into on 4 March.

Juanito Jimenez, 28, from Hamrun, Hagen Azzopardi, 28, from Msida and Lydon Abela, 21, from Mosta, were arraigned before magistrate Leonard Caruana this afternoon, charged with theft aggravated by numerical violence and value from the apartment’s three occupants. The men were also accused of conspiracy to commit theft and handling stolen goods.

Jimenez alone was further charged with a slew of money laundering offences and with failing to observe five sets of bail conditions imposed by various courts.

Azzopardi alone was also charged with stealing a pistol from its licenced owner two days ago, carrying the firearm in public without the necessary licence and breaching bail conditions.

Jimenez and Abela were also accused of recidivism due to their past convictions.

The magistrate heard how one of the accused, Abela, had been suspected of involvement as he had previously been in a relationship with the victim’s daughter. Abela had been arrested a week ago and released on police bail pending further investigations, but was rearrested yesterday.

Meanwhile, CCTV from a neighbouring property led the police to identify the other accused.

The court also heard how Jimenez had gone to the police headquarters to report that he was being followed and feared for his safety. Whilst making the report, a police inspector noted that he was wearing an expensive gold choker and told him to leave it there as part of the police investigation. When Jimenez went back a week later to collect the choker, which is estimated to be worth some €30,000, he was arrested on the spot.

The men pleaded not guilty and were remanded in custody after the court turned down their requests for bail. Bail was refused due to the gravity of the charges and the fact that civilian witnesses were yet to testify. The court solicited the prosecution to summon witnesses as soon as possible.

A freezing order was also imposed over all of the accused’s assets in view of the money laundering charges, despite objections from the defence lawyers, who had suggested that it be limited to the amount allegedly stolen.

Inspectors Joseph Mercieca and George Frendo prosecuted together with lawyer Sean Xerri de Caro from the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Matthew Xuereb appeared for Jimenez, whilst Debono and lawyer Marion Camilleri represented Azzopardi in the proceedings. Lydon Abela was assisted by lawyer Arthur Azzopardi.