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Two charged with attempted robbery of Santa Venera jewellery shop

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Two men have been charged in connection with an attempt to rob a jewellery shop in Santa Venera and the theft of an expensive high-performance SUV.

Wilton Gatt, 28, from Zurrieq and Kieran Caruana, 20, from Qormi, were arraigned before magistrate Monica Vella on Thursday, accused of attempted theft from the jewellery shop, aggravated by violence, means, value and time.

Gatt alone was also charged with conspiracy to steal a Porsche Cayenne SUV from Attard, driving without a licence and committing an offence during the operative period of a suspended sentence.

Inspector Lydon Zammit said that the men were arrested in connection with a long-term investigation into a gang thought to be behind a string of violent robberies targeting shops. During the police investigation it had emerged that the two defendants could possibly have been involved in two of the incidents, namely an attempted theft early in the morning on April 21 from a jewellery shop at ST Venera and the theft of a Porsche Cayenne SUV, just a few minutes prior.

It emerged that Caruana’s role had been to act as a look out while the robbery was underway. Gatt had a similar role in that theft, but he had also been involved in the theft of the Porsche. “Wilton had found them a buyer because they had been unable to sell it. He was the middleman,” said the inspector, adding that the proceeds from the sale were used to buy drugs.

Caruana’s lawyer, Mark Busuttil, asked that the cases be dealt with separately, explaining that his client wished to plead guilty as part of an informal plea deal with the prosecution.

The prosecution also requested the two defendants be tried separately, in view of this.

After that request was upheld, Caruana pleaded guilty to the charge against him.

The prosecution suggested Caruana receive a suspended sentence.

In view of his limited involvement, clean criminal record and early guilty plea, the court sentenced him to one year in prison, suspended for four.

Legal Procurator Colin Galea informed the court that Gatt was pleading not guilty. Bail was not requested for Gatt, who was subsequently remanded in custody.

Prosecutors Alessia Schembri and Brendan Hewer assisted Inspectors Lydon Zammit and Stephen Gulia.

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