Three men who are no strangers to court were remanded into custody on a string of theft charges on Friday. 

George Galea, 50, Silvio Pace, 53, and Ronald Urry, 58, were brought in front of magistrate Marse Ann Farrugia to answer for a string of crimes that occurred between July 30 and August 1st, including the armed hold-up of a betting shop in San Ġwann, the burglary of a residence in Floriana and the theft of a necklace that was snatched from a woman’s neck as she was out walking in Ta’ Ġiorni. 

Inspector Lydon Zammit told the court that police began investigating when a woman who was robbed while she was out on a walk at around 6.30 pm in Ta’ Ġiorni filed a report about the crime.

The victim reported that she was approached by a man who had snatched the necklace she was wearing straight off her neck. The man had arrived in a Peugeot 107 and emerged from the passenger side, Zammit said, which led police to believe that more than one person was involved. 

Subsequently, on August 1, police were informed that an armed robbery had occurred at a betting shop in San Ġwann at around 11.30 pm, with the thieves making off with some €2,400 in cash. A woman who works at the shop, as well as a client who had been in the establishment at the time, were held against their will during the robbery, Zammit said. 

The Peugeot 107 cited by the victim of the Ta’ Ġiorni theft was also used in the betting shop hold-up. Police were able to identify the vehicle by comparing CCTV footage and noticing that in each instance the car was missing a back number plate, as well as other identifying marks. 

Upon further examination of the CCTV footage, Zammit said, police were also able to connect the accused to the burglary of a residence in Floriana, where an elderly man had recently died suddenly. 

Police were able to identify similar items of clothing worn by the aggressors during the robberies, and through the CCTV footage identified the three accused. After obtaining a warrant, police went to Urry’s residence in Ħamrun where they arrested both Urry and Pace. Galea was picked up a few blocks away. 

All three men were charged with recidivism while Galea and Pace were also accused of breaching their bail conditions. 

Galea, Pace and Urry are all pleading not guilty and did not make a request for bail. 

Geroge Galea was previously accused of murdering his drug baron brother-in-law Mario Camilleri, known as l-Imnieħru, as well as his nephew Mario Camilleri, who was the latter’s son. The case has not yet gone to trial and Galea has pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

Urry was jailed for three years in 2018 after admitting to an armed hold-up of a Sta Venera mini market. He is also facing separate proceedings in the murder of taxi driver Matthew Zahra. Zahra was reported missing in 2012, but his remains were discovered by police in 2013 in the same field where they had dug up the bodies of the Imnieħru double murder. 

Silvio Pace previously served 20 years in prison for his part in a Paola explosion that killed a mother and her baby son in 1992. Since his release Pace has been convicted of several other offences and was placed under a three-year probation order in 2016 after pleading guilty to various charges of aggravated theft from the Labour Party Club in Sannat and the owner of a field in Kerċem.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri appeared for George Galea, while Victor Bugeja and Simon Micallef Stafrace were appointed for Silvio Pace and Ronald Urry respectively through legal aid.

Inspectors Lydon Zammit, Stephen Gulia and Jean Paul Attard were prosecuting.

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