Thief has change of heart after filing guilty plea, tells court he needed to care for ailing mother

Self-confessed thief with previous fraud convictions and a ‘usury problem’ stole from Paola shops

File photo
File photo

A self-confessed petty thief with a previous conviction for fraud has told a court that he "did not have a problem with drugs, but with usury," during his arraignment this morning.

Inspectors Paul Camilleri and Antonello Magri charged 39-year-old Rod Cini from Paola before magistrate Gabriella Vella on Wednesday, accusing him of having stolen €160 worth of jewellery from a shop in Paola in January and another €62 worth of goods from a supermarket in Fgura on Monday morning. Cini was also charged with recidivism.

Inspector Camilleri said that the police had spoken to the defendant, who is known to the police by name, on several occasions in the past. He was immediately recognised from the supermarket’s CCTV footage and was arrested yesterday after the police obtained a warrant.

“We knew he had a drug problem and had tried to give him an opportunity to reform himself but when he started to reoffend, we had to take action,” said the inspector.

Asked by the court what he would be replying to the charges, Cini pleaded guilty.

Inspector Camilleri asked the court to impose a custodial sentence, together with a treatment order for his addiction to narcotics.

But the defendant, through his court-appointed lawyer Luke Valletta, told the court that he did not have a problem with drugs, but with usury.  The defence did not object to the treatment order.

“I am a good boy, I got mixed up…” pleaded the defendant, addressing the magistrate directly. “I have a number of medical conditions and I take care of my mother by myself.”

The court explained that the treatment order was intended to help him deal with the different types of problems that he was facing.

Taking Cini’s early plea into consideration, together with the recommendations made by the parties, the court sentenced the thief to seven months in jail, also placing him under a 5-year treatment order. The treatment order was intended to help him address his drug and usury problems, repeated the court.

It warned the defendant that any failure to follow his probation officer’s directions would result in his imprisonment.

While the magistrate was signing the order, the defendant complained to the prison guards and police officers present that there was “no help available” and mooted a possible appeal. “I need to take care of my mother, she’s all by herself,” he repeated.

After calling his lawyer over again, the defendant filed a request for the suspension of his sentence - normally a precursor to the filing of an appeal. As he did not request bail, he was remanded in custody, regardless.