'Society deserves to be protected from people like you' court tells thief

Man jailed for 14 months after being found guilty of theft from Qawra hotel

A man has been jailed for 14 months after a court found him guilty of stealing from a hotel in Qawra in 2017, the magistrate remarking that society deserved to be protected from people like the accused.

Jeffrey Cassar and another man had been charged with attempting to rob a restaurant in St Paul’s Bay on 11 May 2017, and stealing cash from a hotel in the area. The theft was aggravated by value, means and time. Cassar was also accused of being a recidivist due to his having a number of past criminal sentences.

It was at around 11pm on 11 May last year that the police had been informed of a robbery in progress at a slot machine establishment. Cassar was arrested together with another man, the tools he was using to force open the machines still in hand.

Some days before, the police had been called by the management of a hotel in the vicinity over thefts and damage caused to its games room. CCTV footage showed Cassar and Albina Ryabinina opening the machines and stealing the money from inside. They fled in a waiting getaway car, driven by a third person.

That person, Dylan Cardona, had been charged in May this year and had admitted to his part in the thefts, being handed a probation order. Ryabinina had also pleaded guilty and had been conditionally discharged for three years.

The court, presided by magistrate Joe Mifsud, cleared Cassar of the St Paul’s Bay theft but found him guilty of stealing from the hotel, without the aggravation of value.

In its considerations on punishment, the court said that it had emerged clearly that Cassar was the mastermind behind the thefts and had managed to rope in his girlfriend, Ryabinina and Cardona, who both had clean criminal records.

“The accused cannot expect the court to close an eye to this fact. If he wants help, he must be the first to roll up his sleeves, because outside help without a serious commitment will lead nowhere.”

Magistrate Mifsud said he had taken into account the repetitive nature of the crimes committed by the accused, his failure to obey the law and his character. “Society deserves protection from people like the accused who thinks that he can carry on fooling society and the courts. We cannot have people stealing and creating unnecessary alarm in society.”

A custodial sentence was warranted in this case, said the magistrate, handing Cassar a sentence of imprisonment for 14 months.

Inspector Godwin Scerri prosecuted.