Man charged with 70-year-old woman's mugging in attack which caused husband to suffer heart attack

A 33-year-old man from Paola who was accused of stealing a mobile phone from a 70-year-old woman and slightly injuring her has been denied bail

Unemployed Wayne Delia, 33, from Paola, was accused of stealing a mobile phone from a 70-year-old woman and slightly injuring her in an attack that landed her husband in hospital with a heart attack.

The Incident occurred on 22 October at Marsa.

Delia was also charged with stealing from a vending machine in Pieta, relapsing and breaching two sets of bail conditions.

Delia, no stranger to the dock, whose colourful criminal record already includes charges of theft and breaching bail conditions, appeared under arrest before magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace this morning.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, his lawyer, George Anton Buttigieg, requested bail.

Inspector Fabian Fleri explained to the magistrate that Delia’s victim had been walking in Hamrun and had dropped a bracelet. The accused had followed her all the way to Blata l-Bajda, insisting that it was his. At this point, she tried to call the police and was pushed over and her mobile taken. Her elderly husband had a heart attack as a result of the assault, the court was told.

After his arrest it was found that fingerprints from the vending machine that had been broken into, matched the accused’s, added the inspector.

The accused was not trustworthy, given his criminal record and had two pending bail decrees, said Fleri, pointing out that in addition, the elderly woman and her husband were still to testify.

Defence lawyer George Anton Buttigieg said that the defence “absolutely” did not agree with the inspector’s account, adding that “Everything the inspector said about how the crimes took place have nothing to do with the granting of bail.”

He said he had expected full disclosure of the prosecution’s evidence so far, but this had not been forthcoming. “Is it just two elderly persons’ testimony and fingerprints on a vending machine?” he asked.

The lawyer pointed to the 2011 Constitutional Court judgment against Maximilian Ciantar, saying that it dictated how bail was to be given, explaining that the accused’s criminal record is only taken into account when the court comes to decide on punishment. “It had no reflection on the accused’s trustworthiness,” Buttigieg said.

Likewise, the charge of breach of bail should be reflected in the conditions of bail not whether it is given or not, he added.

The accused was set to join a rehab program in January after waiting for a long time. “I don’t think its time to ruin this process,” said the lawyer, commenting that the reasons brought by the prosecution were relevant to the conditions of bail, not to whether or not it is granted.

The court, however, denied the man bail as the civilian witnesses had not yet testified.

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Robert Vella and Lydon Zammit prosecuted.

Lawyer Daniel Buttigieg appeared parte civile for the victims.