Man admits to stealing Christmas decorations, verbally abusing acquaintance

Man admits to stealing Christmas decorations and verbally abusing a female acquaintance early last month, in an incident thought to be a result of mental illness

File photo
File photo

A Mellieha resident has been conditionally discharged after he admitted to stealing Christmas decorations and verbally abusing a female acquaintance early last month, in an incident thought to be a result of mental illness.

The 40-year-old Swedish national was arraigned nearly a month after the alleged offences, due to his having been undergoing psychiatric treatment at Mount Carmel Hospital.

Inspector Warren Galea arraigned the man before magistrate Lara Lanfranco on Tuesday morning, accusing him of insulting and threatening a woman and breaching the peace at a shop in Mellieha on 9 December.

The man was also charged with having, the following night, committed the aggravated theft of Christmas decorations which had been put up by the local council, disobeying legitimate police orders and breaching the peace.

Upon his arrest, he was referred to psychiatric in-patient care at Mount Carmel and was arraigned upon his discharge.

Defence lawyer Joe Brincat described his client as a “proper gentleman,” informing the court that the accused, who works as a translator, would be pleading guilty to the charges.

“The accused himself requested that he be arrested and arraigned in order to conclude this matter quickly,” Brincat said, explaining that had the man been charged in a district sitting, it would have been harder to notify him with summons, leading to administrative difficulties and drawing out proceedings unnecessarily.

“He really cooperated with the police,” added the lawyer, and confirmed by the inspector.

In his submissions on punishment Brincat argued that the circumstances merited a conditional discharge in this case.

Inspector Galea submitted that a suspended sentence would be most beneficial sentence, said he would defer to the court’s decision.

The court was told that for a period of time, the accused had been a friend of the woman, who owns a shop near his house and would often chat with her. However, an incident occurred on the 8 VDecember during which he had said “some words towards her,” added the inspector. The words spoken were not repeated or hinted at in court.

Regarding the charge of failing to obey police orders, the inspector said that the police had received a report of a man screaming and shouting in public and disturbing the peace. Police officers dispatched to his house only found the landlord. Just then, the police received a phone call reporting a man near a Mellieha retirement home, apparently attempting to break in. The accused was arrested at the scene, however no damage was caused and there appeared to be no intent to break in, said the inspector.

“He was carrying a metal pipe that he had found in the street, he was not in a good state of mind and wasn't thinking straight. He was told to drop the pipe but he did not and continued to approach the officers who then discharged a taser gun at him. He was taken to Mater Dei Hospital and then transferred to Mount Carmel Hospital due to his mental state.”

Brincat insisted that his client receive a conditional discharge, arguing that it was appropriate in the circumstances and that a suspended sentence “is absolutely too much.”

The court found the man guilty as charged and discharged him on condition that he does not commit another offence in the next 12 months. It also imposed a €1,000 personal guarantee for that period, to provide for the safety of the woman.