Violent pickpocket who assaulted 81 year-old jailed for 5 and a half years

In its deliberations on punishment, the court took into consideration Borg’s criminal record which was tainted by six previous convictions

The 81-year-old victim was pickpocketed and pushed on the ground
The 81-year-old victim was pickpocketed and pushed on the ground

A would-be pickpocket who assaulted an 81 year-old man has been jailed for five and a half years after a court found him guilty of aggravated attempted theft and causing slight injury, as well as breaching bail.

31 year-old Simon Borg of Zebbug had been charged with a violent incident which occurred on 22 October 2018 in Triq Stiefnu Zerafa in Marsa. Police investigations revealed that the 81 year-old victim had been speaking to another elderly man when he felt someone touch his back trouser pocket in which he kept his wallet. When he turned to see who was touching him, he was pushed to the ground, suffering facial injuries. Borg, who had pushed him over, then tried to assault the victim but was held back by a passing motorist who stopped his car when he saw what was going on. The motorist, who was never identified, restrained Borg until the police arrived.

Upon his arrest, Borg was found to be carrying two small bags containing a greenish substance, which he later admitted was a synthetic drug. He was escorted to the Hamrun police station where he told the police that he didn’t remember what happened, adding that he had smoked synthetic drugs and taken some pills before the incident took place. It emerged that the accused had a drug dependency problem.

The court had heard the elderly victim testify and said it had no doubt that he was telling the truth.

Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia observed that the circumstances spoke for themselves and that the moment the accused had touched the man’s pocket, “there can be no more doubt that the accused had crossed the boundary separating preparatory acts… from the beginning of the execution of the crime of theft…”

Noting that the victim’s wallet had contained around €350 in cash, the crime was deemed aggravated by value.

The man who had been speaking with the victim testified to seeing the accused grabbing the victim from behind and throwing him to the ground, adding that he had stood between the two men when the victim had got back on his feet and the assailant had tried to attack him again. The crime was therefore also deemed to be aggravated by violence.

The court also pointed out that the accused had not been able to escape because a crowd of around 20 people had surrounded him when they saw what was happening. The crowd had dispersed upon the arrival of the police and could not be questioned on the events.

On the alleged breach of bail, Borg’s lawyer had argued that he was presumed innocent at this stage and could therefore never be found guilty of this charge. Magistrate Farrugia was however decidedly unimpressed by this argument, describing it as “frivolous and vexatious.”

“This court has found the accused guilty of the first three charges, which are of a voluntary nature. Consequently for the purposes of this judgment, the accused is not only not presumed innocent of the first three charges, but this court is also going to find him guilty of the first three charges… it follows logically that the accused has also breached (his bail conditions),” said the magistrate.

In its deliberations on punishment, the court took into consideration Borg’s criminal record which was tainted by six previous convictions: two for driving offences, one for heroin possession and two in which he was found guilty of committing 13 aggravated thefts accompanied by criminal damage. The sixth conviction, on eight counts of aggravated theft and criminal damage was pending appeal, observed the court. It also considered the fact that the victim was an elderly man.

Borg was sentenced to 5 and a half years’ imprisonment and made to forfeit his €6,000 total bail bond.

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