A man used a toy gun for a hold-up at an Msida betting shop, before making off with an undisclosed amount in cash, a court heard on Tuesday. 

Joseph Pisani, 50, from Msida, was arraigned before Magistrate Joseph Gatt and accused of stealing the cash from the betting shop at Msida Seafront on the morning of March 22. 

He was also charged with holding the shop employee against her will, causing her to fear violence, and being in possession of an imitation firearm. 

He pleaded not guilty. 

Police Inspector Stephen Gulia told the court that police homed in on the accused thanks to CCTV footage, which showed Pisani running away from the shop towards a garden close to the Msida police station.

There the accused was seen changing into new clothes and walking away from the garden to his home in Rue D’Argens, also in Msida.

Police went to his home and arrested him. They subsequently established that the “firearm” that had been brandished during the hold-up was simply a toy gun. 

Pisani pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

In view of the fact that he is currently unemployed, his lawyer said a request for bail would not be made at this time. 

Magistrate Gatt issued a protection order in favour of the betting shop and its employees and told Pisani to take heed because, even though he was going back to jail for the time being, the protection order would still be in place if he was released from custody at a future date. 

“I have no intention of hurting anybody,” Pisani told the court. 

“Good, now take that intention and make sure you act on it,” the Magistrate replied. 

Police inspectors Lydon Zammit and Stephen Gulia as well as AG lawyer Shelby Aquilina prosecuted. 

Lawyer Adriano Spiteri appeared as legal aid for the accused.

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