Nursing manager granted bail after allegedly stealing €20,000 in cash from elderly residents

The son of one of the victims had gone to the police after installing a hidden camera in his mother’s room and allegedly captured footage of the man stealing gold items from her drawer

File photo
File photo

A nursing manager at a private care home for the elderly has been charged with stealing €20,000 in cash as well as gold and other valuables from residents.

The 37-year-old man, whose name is being withheld from publication in line with a court order, was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Joseph Gatt on Friday.

Police Inspector Joseph Mercieca explained that the police had received reports from the care home in question, the name of which is also subject to a reporting ban, to the effect that the defendant had been stealing from two different rooms “for some time.”

The son of one of the victims had gone to the police after a hidden camera he had installed in his mother’s room, captured footage of the defendant stealing gold items from her drawer.

The defendant was arrested yesterday evening and had led the police to the stolen gold which he kept in his car. Subsequent investigations revealed that some of the gold items had been stolen from another resident’s room.

The man had admitted to the thefts during questioning, added the inspector.

Inspector Mercieca added that although the second victim had not filed a police report, she told the police that she had noticed some items had gone missing recently.

The accused, who works as a nursing manager at the care home, did not appear to have any drug problems, said the inspector, adding that he also had a young family. 

Magistrate Gatt asked to see the recording of the man’s interrogation but then observed that his courtroom was not equipped to play DVDs, remarking that he had been pointing out this problem ever since his appointment to the bench.

The court asked what the defendant was pleading, as the man’s pregnant wife and father, both present in the courtroom, looked on.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono interjected that the defendant was ready to admit to the charges as long as the prosecution did not insist on a custodial sentence.

The defendant told the court that he had already returned the stolen items, but this was disputed by inspector Mercieca, who said that this was only true with respect to one of the rooms.

Debono argued that his client could not oblige himself to give back something which he doesn’t have.  “If his claim to have returned everything is being contested by the prosecution, it could be resolved in civil proceedings.” he suggested.

Lawyer Christine Calleja, representing the victims and care home as parte civile, requested a ban on the publication of the names of the victims and the care home where the thefts took place. Debono did not object to the request. 

The court upheld the request and said that it felt that in this case, it should extend the ban on publication to include the name of the defendant, whose eyes welled up with tears upon hearing this. 

Debono informed the court that the defendant was prepared to admit to stealing from two of the victims, but not to stealing some €20,000 from a third. Because of this, a not-guilty plea was entered.

The Court asked whether the man was currently suspended from work and was told that the defendant would be suspended shortly.

Bail was granted against a €1,000 deposit and a personal guarantee of €2,000. 

In addition to the bail conditions, the court also ordered the defendant not to attempt to contact any of the victims. “Forget about ever talking to them, because if you do you will be fined €7,000,” warned the magistrate.