Man charged with stealing chalice, cash from sacred sites in Żebbug and Siġġiewi

The man was arrested by police after stealing from chapels to sustain his drug addiction

File photo
File photo

Updated at 4:28pm with court proceedings

Construction worker Philip Agius, 38, has been charged with stealing several items from sacred sites in Ħaż-Żebbuġ this June including a chalice and cash.

The alleged theft took place from inside the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart in Żebbuġ and from the Chapel of St John the Baptist in Siġġiewi.

Earlier on Tuesday, the police said said the major crimes unit, together with the Qormi district police, arrested the man who carried out three thefts from Siġġiewi and Ħaż-Żebbug.

Appearing in court later on Tuesday, Agius who pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him, informed the court he did not have the financial means to hire a lawyer. He was given legal aid. 

The court also heard how the objects which were stolen, had been returned by Agius, after he felt remorse for his actions. The man, who has a drug addiction, did not return the stolen cash, which were used to buy narcotics. 

Agius was charged with carrying out the thefts which did not exceed €2,333 between June 2 and 3 from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sanctuary in Żebbug, as well as causing damage to third party property.

He was also charged with stealing cash from the St John the Baptist chapel at around 4pm on 13 June. Agius was also charged with the failed attempt to carry out a theft in Triq Santa Margerita, Siġġiewi between the 17 and 18 June. 

The man was finally charged for being in possession, or purchasing objects which had been stolen. 

Inspector Christina Delia told Magistrate Noel Bartolo the police had been receiving anonymous reports on a string of thefts from sanctuaries and churches. She said she had gone to the man’s home, where he was cooperating in the investigation. 

Legal aid lawyer Leontin Calleja, who appeared for the accused, requested the court convert the charges to drug charges. The prosecution objected to the request, saying it was still early in the investigation. 

Lawyer Karl Muscat, together with Attorney General lawyer Nicholas De Gaetano, told the court the accused was still consuming drugs, and he was stealing to sustain his addiction. 

“The court should first hear all the testimonies, and then decide,” the prosecution argued. The court turned down the defence’s request. 

The defence’s request for bail was turned down by the court, over the serious accusations, the accused’s drug addiction, and the possibility of him being a recidivist. 

The defence’s request for the man to be admitted to a drug programme, instead of the Corradino Correctional Facility, was not met by the court, arguing he could not offer any guarantees. 

The defence also submitted its request for a pre-sentencing report, which will be submitted on the 11 July. The court recommended to the Director of the Corradino Correctional Facility that the accused be either allocated or given the necessary assistance to pursue a programme or other assistance against drug addiction.