Hunger drove man to steal €29 worth of goods from supermarket, court told

The loot consisted of boxer shorts, socks, energy drinks, cheese, sausages and salami at a total value of €29

A man has been arraigned in court after stealing less than €30 worth of items from a supermarket, yesterday morning.

Jaba Nadiradze, 33, a Georgian national with no official address was charged with shoplifting the products from a supermarket in Mellieha.

Nadiradze was also charged with giving false particulars to the police, as well as with disobeying legitimate police orders.

Before the sitting began, presiding magistrate Leonard Caruana pointed out to the prosecuting official that the cost of appointing interpreters to assist Nadiradze, who speaks neither English or Maltese, had already exceeded the value of the stolen items, before taking into account the other costs of the case.

Asked to explain what had led to the arrest, Inspector Christian Cauchi told the court how the police had been contacted by supermarket staff yesterday at 10:30am, reporting that a shoplifter had been spotted on CCTV.

Security staff at the supermarket had searched the man’s backpack and discovered stolen items, he said. The loot consisted of boxer shorts, socks, energy drinks, cheese, sausages and salami, the inspector said, confirming the total value of the stolen items to have been €29.

Officers from Qawra police station had then arrested the man, who initially offered to show them where he lived, but had subsequently changed his mind, said the inspector. Nadiradze had also refused to give his details to the police. The man’s identity was established from pictures of documents that he had saved on his mobile phone, the inspector explained.

Nadiradze pleaded guilty to the charges, confirming his admission when given the opportunity to. 

In his submissions on punishment, the inspector told the court that although the value of the stolen items was small, the man had not returned them and had escalated the situation through his lack of cooperation.

Nadiradze asked the magistrate to allow him to explain why he had committed the crime.

Speaking with the assistance of two interpreters, the accused expressed regret and apologised for the incident. It was the first time in his life that he had broken the law, he said. “He was feeling hungry,” said the interpreter. “He paid €10 of the bill because he didn’t have enough money to cover all the items.”

He had given false particulars to the police because he had been afraid of bringing trouble to his close friends who lived with him, he said. “He had eventually provided his details to the police by telling them to look at the picture of his passport on WhatsApp. He had lost his passport around two years ago, and hadn’t been aware that he needed to file a police report about it,” said the interpreter.

“Today’s case is a piteous one,” said lawyer Christopher Chircop, legal aid defence counsel, in his submissions on punishment. He asked the court to consider applying a punishment close to the legal minimum.

Finding the man guilty on his own admission, the court conditionally discharged him for six months.

The magistrate explained the implications of the sentence to the accused, warning that there would be much worse consequences should he commit another offence in the next six months.

“The police are there to be obeyed,” reminded the magistrate, before allowing the man to leave.