'I don't have a drug problem. I have a problem getting fed' - 22-year-old thief tells court

Troubled youngster admits that he had to resort to theft to feed himself

A troubled young man has told a court how he had to resort to crime to feed himself after leaving prison with no prospects.

Inspector Elliott Magro arraigned Shaun Caruana, 22 from Paola in court this afternoon on 36 charges of theft, attempted theft, and criminal damage in connection with a string of break-ins on vehicles parked in Hamrun, Pieta’, Santa Venera and Marsa.

The crimes all took place in August and September. Caruana, who said he was unemployed, pleaded guilty to the charges.

“Mr. Caruana, I have 36 accusations before me. Can you explain these to me?” asked magistrate Francesco Depasquale.

“I don’t come from a happy family,” said the man. “Life hasn’t been kind to me.” Caruana explained that on one occasion he had been jailed for stealing to be able to feed himself. “I didn’t have food at YMCA…I don’t have a drug problem. I have a problem getting food and drink. Nobody taught me how to live. I can’t find a job.I have been living in the street with my belongings and no support.”

“YMCA doesn’t feed its residents. A representative had already explained this to a court but I was still jailed.”

He had also asked the prison authorities to teach him a trade but this had not happened, he said.

Lawyer Noel Bartolo, appointed as legal aid said it was clear that although he needed punishment, he also needed help. The defence stressed that although punishment should be punitive it should also be reformative. “Otherwise the entire process will have failed.”

Inspector Magro said he was in perfect agreement with the defence and suggested that the man be given a work placement while in prison.

The court, noting that the accused had ended up in the street after prison without work or money and didn’t know what to do and had committed the crimes just to stay alive. On the other hand it also observed that the crimes he committed “were many in number and certainly had led to uncertainty in society that this court could not fail to address.

“However this court also understands that at 22 years of age, the accused must be given all the help he requires to integrate into society and be able to work when he is eventually released from prison.”

Finding Caruana guilty as charged, magistrate Depasquale jailed him for three and a half years, whilst ordering the prison authorities to immediately “do everything necessary, together with other authorities, to teach the accused a trade in prison with the aim of allowing him to earn a living when he eventually leaves prison.”

“I could have sent you to prison for a much longer time...I am trying to help you from up here. Now the important thing is that you allow them to help you.”

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