Drunk passenger charged with stealing taxi driver's phone after forgetting his own in the car

The passenger, himself a retired taxi driver, was involved in a violent altercation with the taxi driver and stole his phone, only to forget his own personal mobile phone inside the taxi

A drunk tourist who tried to steal his taxi driver’s phone, only to leave his own behind, has admitted to related charges.

Englishman Paul Johnson, 67, from Stockport in Manchester was arraigned before Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras on Monday, charged with attempting to steal a mobile phone from a taxi driver in St. Paul’s Bay and with having slightly injured him.

The court was told that the incident in question had taken place in Triq ir-Rizzi, during the early hours of the morning between Friday and Saturday.

Police Inspector Warren Galea also accused Johnson, who told the court that he was a retired taxi driver himself who was currently on holiday in Malta, of having been drunk and unable to look after himself in a public place and with making a noisy disturbance during the night time.

The inspector told the court that the victim had filed a report at the police station to report an violent altercation between him and a drunk passenger, who had also stolen his phone.

He also informed the police that the passenger had forgotten his mobile phone inside the taxi. The police had then identified the accused from documents found inside the cover of his mobile phone.

During questioning, Johnson, who had refused legal assistance at that stage, had told the police that he had been involved in an argument with a taxi driver, said the inspector.

In court this afternoon, Johnson entered a guilty plea to the charges and confirmed his admission when given the opportunity to retract it by the court.

In his submissions on punishment, defence lawyer David Bonello informed the court that the stolen device had been returned to its rightful owner. He asked the court to consider imposing a suspended sentence on the defendant, who was due to leave the island shortly.

In view of the man’s guilty plea, the court sentenced him to imprisonment for 15 months, which were suspended for 3 years. The court explained the implications of the sentence to the accused.

Bonello assured the court that his client would be leaving the islands at the earliest possible opportunity.