Pickpocketing pensioner jailed for six months after guilty plea

Man appeals prison sentence, granted bail

A pickpocketing pensioner has filed an appeal to a six month prison sentence he received after he admitted to pilfering €850 from another elderly man in Gzira.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri and Jonathan Ransley arraigned Joseph Troisi under arrest before duty Magistrate Doreen Clarke this afternoon.

Troisi, 62, from St. Paul’s Bay, was accused of robbing an 85-year-old man of €850 on 4 June. The theft occurred at around 10.45am near the Gzira housing estate. “His full pension was taken,” Ransley said. “He cashed his cheque and put it in his pocket. Then, as he passed by an alley near KFC, someone took his money.”

CCTV footage from nearby shops showed that the man had been followed by the accused for some distance. His photograph was circulated amongst the police, and undercover officers picked him up today as he was boarding a bus.

The accused, a pensioner himself, was charged with theft, aggravated by value. He pleaded guilty.

The stolen cash was recovered by the police and returned to the victim.

The accused had told the police that he didn’t take the money, but that the cash had fallen out of the man’s pocket into his hand.

“We already have a problem with foreign gangs coming to Malta to steal, now Maltese are doing the same,” protested Ransley, pointing out the fact that the man had followed the pensioner showed clear intent.

The courts and justice system must protect vulnerable people, said the inspector. “You can’t have the message out there that you can follow them and take their money.”

Lawyer Joe Ellis, legal aid to the accused, argued that the fact that there are foreign gangs should have no bearing on punishment and didn’t mean that an effective prison sentence is needed. “The accused is truly contrite… he is extremely embarrassed about what happened. It was a regrettable lapse of judgment on his part for which he is truly sorry… What he did is not to be expected of a pensioner, but of an errant teenager, which is why he is so contrite and embarrassed.”

Other considerations on punishment include the fact that he has a clean criminal record, which entitles him to a suspended sentence, said the lawyer. “There is no way that society is going to be more protected by sending the accused to jail than by handing him a suspended sentence.”

“If he’s jailed for three months, after two months he’s out, but if he is given a suspended sentence, society has a greater guarantee that he doesn’t repeat his nefarious act as it has more leverage over him to ensure that he will not misbehave in future.”

The court, having heard submissions on punishment, passed judgment on the man, jailing him for six months. Ellis gave notice of appeal at that point and requested bail.

Bail was contested due to the fear that he would approach or try to contact the victim, but Ellis pointed out that the man’s appeal can only be on the punishment as he had pleaded guilty and that therefore no witnesses would need to be heard.

The court released the accused on bail against a deposit of €500 and a personal guarantee of €2,000, ordering him to sign a bail book twice a week.

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