Trespasser caught on video handed one-month jail sentence

The man had been filmed in Rabat in a video that went viral on social media

The man had been filmed on a video which went viral
The man had been filmed on a video which went viral

A man, captured on mobile phone footage as he was pursued after being discovered inside a car that did not belong to him last May, has been jailed for a month.

A viral video of Patrick Mangion, 46, from Valletta being chased by a bystander as he pathetically tried to cover his face with a hood made the rounds on social media at the time.

Mangion was later identified from the footage and arrested, being charged with aggravated theft, swearing in public, insulting and threatening the person filming him as well as breaching two sets of bail conditions.

Inspector Robert Vella had testified to how, on 26 May this year, the police had reacted to a report of a robbery in progress in Rabat. At the scene they had spoken to a witness who said that she had found a tall man rummaging in her family car outside her home. She asked him what he was doing and he had replied that her father had sent him to inspect the car as it was for sale. The man then walked away, forgetting his mobile phone on the car’s passenger seat.

The woman had alerted her son who had rushed out of the house and followed the man, filming him on his mobile phone as he went, until he climbed into a Land Rover and left.

Police had recognised the man on the footage as Mangion and had launched a manhunt for him.

The first to be traced was the owner of the vehicle used in the getaway. He told police that he had been driving in Rabat when Mangion had stopped his car, got inside and ordered him to drive away, claiming to have been beaten up by two men.

The driver of the Land Rover had also testified in court, explaining that a man – whom he later recognised as Mangion- had forced his way into his car when he had slowed down because of sleeping policemen.

Mangion had been followed by two men, said the witness, and had claimed that they were chasing him because he had been caught in bed with one of their wives.

The uninvited passenger had refused offers to be driven to the polyclinic and had growled at the driver to drive on when the latter had tried to stop near a policeman and ask for help. The driver had noticed the man’s hand was in his pocket but could not make out whether he was actually armed or not.

Mangion was later arrested after turning himself in at the Valletta police station.

He told the police that he had gone to the tal-Virtu’ area that day because he had wanted to sell his car. Thinking it to belonged to the person he wanted to sell the vehicle to, he claimed to have entered the parked car to toot its horn and attract its owner’s attention from inside the house.

But when the car’s owner’s son had started filming him, he said, he had gotten confused and had run away, leaving his phone behind.

The car’s owner had accused Mangion of stealing a €20 note from inside the car, but later admitted that he was not sure he had left the money there.

The court, presided by magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo observed that the footage shot by the owner’s son clearly showed the accused blaspheming and threatening the man, finding him guilty of the relative charges and sentencing him to a month in jail, from which the time spent in preventive custody was to be deducted.

With regards to the charge of theft, the court said that the fact that the owner “normally” left cash there, created doubt.

It was true that there were no signs of forced entry and that the car had been parked in a driveway belonging to the car’s owner, said the court.

Although it was not justifiable for Mangion to have entered private property without permission, the fact that the vehicle was left unlocked and accessible to other people, nudged the court towards doubt. Doubt weighs in favour of the accused, said the court, clearing him of the charge of theft.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin appeared for Mangion in the proceedings.

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