Snatch-and-grab car leads police to betting shop thieves

Police charge criminal gang behind string of thefts, after identifying a Peugeot 107 which was used in snatch-and-grab theft of a necklace worn by a woman walking in Ta’ Giorni

CCTV footage captured the moment the men made their way into the San Gwann gambling outlet
CCTV footage captured the moment the men made their way into the San Gwann gambling outlet

Three men with an infamous criminal past have been remanded in custody on charges of armed robbery and other thefts.

Police inspectors Lydon Zammit, Stephen Gulia and Jean Paul Attard arraigned George Galea, 50, from Marsa, Silvio Pace, 52, from Hamrun and Ronald Urry, 57, also from Hamrun before magistrate Marseanne Farrugia on Friday afternoon.

The men were charged with the aggravated armed burglary of a Floriana residence on July 30.

Galea and Urry alone were further charged with robbing a betting shop in San Gwann on August 1, aggravated by violence, means and value, holding two people against their will with the intent to extort and damaging their property.

In addition to these charges, the pair were also accused of having ripped a necklace from around the neck of one of the detained victims.

Galea alone was additionally charged with carrying a firearm during the San Gwann robbery, breaching bail and recidivism.

Urry was also accused of slightly injuring the woman from whom the necklace was stolen, illegally detaining her with intent to extort and recidivism.

In addition to the armed robbery charge, Saviour Pace was also accused of breaching bail and recidivism.

All three pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Inspector Lydon Zammit gave the court an outline of the crimes and how the police had arrived at the accused men.

Investigations into the snatch-and-grab theft of a necklace worn by a woman walking in Ta Giorni during the evening of July 30 returned CCTV footage which revealed that the robbers had arrived in a Peugeot 107.

The same car was used in another robbery, two days later, on August 1, at a betting shop in Ta Giorni, which had also been robbed at gunpoint by two persons.

Police received information that a Floriana house, the owner of which had been found dead last June, was being used by the same criminal gang that were behind the robberies.

Inspector Zammit added that the aggressors’ clothes were the same as those seen in the footage and described by eyewitnesses. Arrest warrants were issued and the men were taken into custody.

Urry and Pace were arrested at Urry’s home in Hamrun. Galea was found a few streets away and also taken into custody by the police.

The CCTV footage also showed the faces of the Floriana armed burglars, said the inspector.

Bail was not requested and the court ordered the men to be remanded in custody.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri represented Galea.

Pace and Urry were assisted by lawyers Victor Bugeja and Simon Micallef Stafrace, respectively, as legal aid.


A career in crime

Besides previous convictions for theft, the accused men are connected to some of Malta's most horrific crimes.

Galea is on bail awaiting trial for his alleged part in no less than 3 murders which took place in 2013. He and Urry are accused of participating in the brutal double murder of Mario Camilleri 'l-Imniehru' and his 21-year-old son, Mario Jnr. Galea is further accused of the murder of  Matthew Zahra, also in 2013. 

Pace had been jailed for 20 years for his part in a 1992 bombing of an apartment block in Paola, which had claimed the lives of a mother and baby. He has since also been convicted over other thefts.