Thief with serious drug problem charged again after being granted bail five times

Police agree with man's defence lawyer that his client needs help to overcome a serious drug addiction that is leading him to one theft after another

The man's defence lawyer said his client needs to be enrolled in a drug rehabilitation programme
The man's defence lawyer said his client needs to be enrolled in a drug rehabilitation programme

A prolific petty criminal, has been remanded in custody after being charged with robbing vending machines while out on bail over five separate pending cases against him.

Daniele Aquilina, an unemployed 28-year-old from Ta’ Xbiex, was arraigned earlier today before Magistrate Gabriella Vella, accused of having robbed a cigarette vending machine in his hometown last Sunday, causing €2,500 worth of damage to it.

Inspector Lydon Zammit explained that the accused had been arrested at his residence after repeatedly failing to sign his five bail books. At the same time, the police also received a report from the vending machine owner about a theft which occurred the day before. It did not take long for them to  identify the thief as Aquilina from CCTV footage.

The court was told that this was Aquilina’s second arraignment for theft in the last six weeks and that he was currently subject to five separate sets of bail conditions.

Aquilina pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His defence lawyer, David Gatt, said he would not be requesting bail at this stage, but highlighted his client’s clear need to be enrolled in a multi-stage residential drug rehabilitation programme, saying that the man had an "enormous" drug problem. "He has a chronic drug problem. He cannot be given bail at this stage, he needs treatment," said the lawyer, decrying the current system which, he said, required addicts to spend "three years in prison before they receive treatment."

Prosecuting police inspectors Lydon Zammit and Colin Sheldon agreed that Aquilina needed help, pointing out that the man was repeatedly being charged, released on bail and “then three or four days later, he does it again.”

The prosecution observed that this time he had managed to maintain a “record” 15 days between arrests.

Just last month, Aquilina had been charged with stealing €2,600 worth of water fittings belonging to the Water Services Corporation. On that occasion, the vehicle used had been identified from CCTV and led the police to Aquilina.