Man admits to three hold ups

The man, who is homeless, pleaded guilty to robbing three stores, armed with a knife

A homeless man has pleaded guilty to robbing three convenience stores at knifepoint.

Justin Camilleri, 31, was arraigned before magistrate Audrey Demicoli earlier today. He was charged with 14 offences in all: three counts each of theft aggravated by violence, illegal arrest and carrying a knife in public without a licence, as well as charges of handling a stolen car and driving it with a different car’s numberplate. He was also charged with defrauding a petrol station with a stolen cheque, breaching court-imposed conditions and recidivism.

The theft charges related to different instances, with the accused having robbed shops in Santa Venera, Birkirkara and San Gwann on 5 November, 7 December and 9 December respectively.

Camilleri pleaded guilty as charged. His lawyer, Andy Ellul made an impassioned case for clemency to the court. The accused had cooperated with the investigation and had explained to the police that he had not committed the theft of the cheque, numberplate and the car, but that he had only used them. The police investigations into these thefts are understood to still be ongoing.

On punishment, Ellul told the court that he knows the man and his family personally. The recent loss of his younger brother in tragic circumstances didn’t help, he said. The man’s use of drugs was the problem, said the lawyer. He had been working but this has now stopped and he had trouble with his family due to the drugs.

“He did what he did out of his desperation to end the drug abuse cycle,” said the lawyer. “He started to do things in the hope of getting caught.”

The lawyer acknowledged that his client “hadn’t chosen the best route” but desperately wanted to change his life. After leaving prison he will be a better man, said the lawyer, asking the court to recommend the man for drug rehabilitation.

The court announced that it would deliver its sentence on Friday. The man was remanded in custody.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri and Lydon Zammit prosecuted.

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