Community service order for robbing, assaulting three women

A man who attacked and robbed three women after they refused his advances has been sentenced to three years probation, community service

A man who attacked and robbed three women after they refused his advances has been placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

Inspectors Elton Taliana and James Grech had charged Sufin Abdulsalam Ali Atomi, 26, from Libya, with stealing a mobile phone from a French woman and holding her and her sister against their will. He was also accused of grievously injuring both women.

They had encountered the accused in Paceville on 29 August 2014, while eating at a fast food outlet and he had offered to pay for their meal. He was a perfect gentleman at first, but then he had started pestering the sisters who at that point decided to go back home. They hailed a taxi, and the accused had hopped in too. When they objected to him doing this, he said he had a right to use a taxi too. Figuring that it was ok to share expenses, they let it slide.

But Atomi had then followed the women from the taxi to their apartment and, being stronger than the girls, forced his way in and sat down on the sofa. He was laughing, and the women weren’t afraid at that point, they said.

They later discovered that he had taken one of the women’s wallets and stolen some cash before hiding the wallet in a bathroom, the court heard.

From the sofa, the accused walked into the bedroom, stripped off and started to masturbate while staring at the girls. When the horrified girls threatened to call the police, he shut the bedroom door behind them and started to physically assault the two women. One of them managed to escape and alerted a neighbour who called the police.

One girl had bruises on her arms and legs and a cut on her forehead. She exhibited a photograph of the accused in their apartment, which her sister had taken upon his entrance into the flat. The other girl needed five stitches to her head and was knocked unconscious, she said.

The court also heard how on 26 August, the accused had struck up a conversation with a Russian girl at Bay Street, where after browsing the shops for an hour, he had tried to kiss her in a dark garage entrance opposite the shopping complex. She had refused his advances and was punched in the face, kicked to the ground and robbed of cash and a gold necklace. The man had given her the impression that he was going to rape her so she played dead and the man fled, she said. She needed dental work and psychological assistance as a result of the assault; she told the court.

A representative from the residence and citizenship department said the accused had no valid residence permit. He had a permit from December 2010 to March 2011 to attend an English language school, but he had stopped going to lessons in January that year and the school had recommended that his visa be revoked.

The accused had told the police that the girls had invited him into their apartment and that their injuries were caused by them fighting amongst themselves because one of them didn’t want to let him inside and the other did. He suggested in court that there was an agreement between the Russian and French girls to falsely accuse him of things which he didn’t do. However, he later admitted to stealing objects and cash from the Russian girl which rendered his testimony “absolutely untruthful,” observed magistrate Joe Mifsud.

But the court also noted a positive report from the accused’s probation officer which stated that the accused had suffered from anxiety as a result of the case and the progress he had made would turn to nought if given a prison sentence.

Magistrate Mifsud observed that in the circumstances of the case a prison sentence could likely cause the accused to suffer a psychological disturbance. Noting that he had a clean criminal record, had no drug or alcohol problems and was in stable employment it said it was of the opinion that in the circumstances of this case there will be no benefit if the accused is given a prison sentence

Only part of the point of punishment was to act as a deterrent, said the magistrate. More importantly, it was to serve as a reformative means that would allow the guilty person to recognise the error of their ways and never repeat them.

Finding him guilty of two counts of aggravated theft and one of grievous bodily harm, the court placed the man on probation for three years, ordering him to pay for the stolen items. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service for his crimes.

More in Court & Police