Couple receives suspended prison sentences for €600 shoplifting spree

Couple, residing in Mellieħa, sentenced to suspended prison terms after admitting to shoplifting €600 worth of goods from a supermarket, with the court taking into consideration their guilty pleas, parental responsibilities, and intention to repay the stolen amount

Couple receives suspended prison sentences after admitting to shoplifting nearly €600 worth of goods from a supermarket
Couple receives suspended prison sentences after admitting to shoplifting nearly €600 worth of goods from a supermarket

A couple from Georgia received suspended prison sentences after they admitted to shoplifting nearly €600 worth of goods from a supermarket.

In an afternoon arraignment before magistrate Kevan Azzopardi, Inspector Warren Galea charged 27-year-old Nika Chkhaidze and 25-year-old Maia Martikovi with theft, aggravated by time and value, from a supermarket in Mellieħa - the town in which both defendants also reside.

Chkhaidze, who told the court that he had just started a cleaning job and Martikovi, also a cleaner, pleaded guilty to the charges. 

Inspector Galea told the court that on May 28, the police had received a report about shoplifting from the manager of the supermarket in question. Officers had gone to the scene, finding the manager together with the individuals he accused of shoplifting. 

The manager told the police that this was not the first time that the pair had stolen items from the supermarket, said the inspector, adding that on this occasion he had seen them taking appliances and food.

Acting on the basis of reasonable suspicion, police officers then carried out a search of the Mellieħa apartment occupied by the defendants, in their presence. One of the stolen items, an electric shaver, was found there.

In court on Tuesday, Chkhaidze and Martikovi both pleaded guilty and reaffirmed their admission after they were given ample time to reconsider. 

The court was told that Chkhaidze had recently been granted a visa extension in order to stay in Malta with his wife. Examining their passports, the court observed that the defendants were not entitled to protected humanitarian status.

In its submissions on sentencing, the defence requested a punishment towards the minimum, suggesting a suspended sentence in view of the fact that the guilty couple were also parents of a 6-year-old child. 

“The early admission of guilt should be given due consideration,” said the lawyers, declaring that the pair intended to reimburse the supermarket for the value of items they had stolen-some €595.

The prosecution told the court that it did not object to the suggestion of a suspended sentence.

When the sitting resumed, nearly an hour after the magistrate retired to chambers to deliberate on punishment, the couple were handed 13 months prison sentences, suspended for two years. They were also ordered to repay the €595 in 6 monthly payments. 

Magistrate Azzopardi told the defendants to be careful not to make their situation worse in future and keep in mind the fact that they had a child who depended on them. 

Lawyers Brandon Muscat and Leontine Calleja represented the defendants.