A man who insisted in court that he was “not a criminal” was handed an 18-month jail term after admitting to an armed robbery at a betting parlour last Friday morning.
Foday Saidy, a 25-year-old delivery man from Gambia, was armed with a kitchen knife with a damaged blade when he held up the shop attendant at the Izibet outlet on Princess Margaret Street, Msida. He made off with €1900 in cash.
Police investigations focused on CCTV footage from the shop as well as evidence by the female shop attendant.
Saidy was soon identified as a customer who frequently went to the betting outlet.
Two days later, a policeman spotted him boarding a bus in Ħamrun. He was arrested soon after.
During interrogation, Saidy cooperated and admitted to the robbery, explained prosecuting Inspector Stephen Gulia.
The accused also handed over the knife with the broken blade, as well as a backpack used in the holdup, explaining that he had done what he did because of financial problems.
Saidy was charged with aggravated theft, holding the shop attendant against her will and carrying the knife in public without a police licence.
He immediately signalled his intention to plead guilty.
While he was granted time to again consult his legal aid lawyer, he tried to explain his predicament in court.
“They cheated me…I was owed €1,000 …The reason I did this is because I have to pay rent….” he said.
When asked whether he worked, the man insisted, “Yes! All my life…I’m not a criminal.”
Asked to confirm his admission he said:
“I plead guilty. I committed the crime,” said the accused, gesturing with his hands for emphasis.
When making submissions on punishment the prosecution confirmed that the accused had cooperated.
However, this was a very serious case.
“It was an armed robbery which could have gone very wrong,” argued the prosecutor, adding that the amount stolen, namely €1900, was also to be considered.
The therefore prosecution called for imprisonment.
The defence lawyer countered that the accused was himself the victim “of a civil and possibly criminal offence,” having allegedly been cheated by his employer who had failed to give him his dues.
The matter had “seriously impaired” the accused’s judgment, argued Farrugia, pointing out that the accused had cooperated fully with investigators.
Moreover he had filed a guilty plea as early as possible and was sorry for what he had done, apologizing to “the court and Maltese society in general.”
The weapon used in the robbery was a “cooking knife” which the accused had never intended to use, concluded the lawyer.
Saidy was sentenced to an effective 18-month jail term, whilst binding him under a personal guarantee of €1500..
The accused gave notice of appeal.
Inspectors Lydon Zammit, Stephen Gulia and Jonathan Ransley prosecuted.
Lawyer Martin Farrugia was legal aid counsel.
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