A gambling addict has been jailed for robbing a betting shop at knifepoint, telling the court that he had resorted to stealing because his employer had not paid him his full wage.
Foday Saidy, 25, a deliveryman from Gambia, admitted to having stolen €1,900 and holding the shop’s 22-year-old salesgirl against her will during the heist, which happened in Msida last Friday.
Saidy was arraigned before Magistrate Elaine Mercieca Rizzo and charged with theft, aggravated by violence, holding the woman against her will and carrying a knife in public without a licence.
As soon as he was led into the courtroom, Saidy informed the court that he would be pleading guilty, even before a legal aid lawyer could be appointed to assist him. The court pointed out that the charges meant that he was facing a potential custodial sentence and ordered lawyer Martin Farrugia to represent the accused as legal aid.
From the dock, Saidy insisted that wasn’t a criminal, but had a gambling addiction and had committed the crime because his employer had failed to pay him his wages. The defendant told the court that he had been living in Malta for some time and had always paid his taxes.
The defendant had no fixed address and would change his address frequently, he said, telling the court that he last lived in Qormi.
The court was told that after he was identified from CCTV footage, Saidy was arrested on Sunday, while travelling on a bus. The knife used during the commission of the offence, with a distinctive broken blade, was found in his backpack.
Defence lawyer Martin Farrugia, appointed as legal aid counsel, argued that the defendant was “also a victim” in this case, having been betrayed by his employer.
Prosecuting police inspectors Lydon Zammit, Stephen Gulia and Jonathan Ransley insisted on a custodial sentence.
In its submissions on punishment, the defence requested a punishment on the lower end of the scale, arguing that Saidy had no intention of hurting anyone and wanted to apologise for his actions. The lawyer described the defendant as a “victim of the circumstances and the way his employer treated him.”
Saidy was handed an 18-month prison sentence by the court, which also bound him not to approach the woman again, against a €1800 personal guarantee.