Thief admits to stealing tourist's purse at St Paul's Bay

Man admits stealing purse and trying to make fraudulent use of credit card

The unemployed man admitted stealing a purse (File photo)
The unemployed man admitted stealing a purse (File photo)

A man who was caught red-handed on camera while stealing a tourist’s purse has been handed a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the charges.

Unemployed Romanian national Ciobanu Neculai, 54, was arraigned before Magistrate Charmaine Galea on Monday, accused of stealing a purse containing cash, documents and credit cards from a tourist. He was also charged with attempting to fraudulently make use of the stolen credit cards.

Police Inspector Matthew Galea, prosecuting together with inspector George Frendo, told the court that the crimes had taken place on a bus trip from Ghadira Bay to Bugibba on July 11 and exhibited copies of CCTV footage of the incident, which had been captured on film by a nearby butcher's shop’s security camera.

Some €55 in cash were reported to have been inside the stolen purse. The attempted card transaction in question had been for €19.19, but it had been rejected and was therefore not completed.

Lawyer Jason Grima, defence counsel to the accused, entered a plea of guilty.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea, presiding over the arraignment, gave the accused time to reconsider his plea, which he later duly confirmed.

The prosecution said it did not have any particular submissions to make on punishment, but asked the court to order the accused to return the stolen €55.

Grima submitted that his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and was willing to return the stolen cash.

The magistrate, having seen the charges and evidence and in view of the accused’s guilty plea, found him guilty and sentenced him to imprisonment for six months, suspended for three years. Neculai was also ordered to return the stolen cash to the victim.