An 18-year-old who allegedly stole two mobile phones on Sunday was escorted before the duty magistrate on Wednesday, his face bruised after being chased and manhandled in a citizens’ arrest.

Sayfedine Bonavia, from St Paul’s Bay, was arraigned on Wednesday after spending a couple of days on police bail while receiving treatment in hospital for injuries allegedly suffered in the early hours of Sunday when he was hounded by a gang of youths after being spotted stealing a woman’s handbag. 

The sight of the young man, bearing facial injuries and walking with some difficulty, caused Magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace to voice concern.

“This should not stop here. This is an alarming case. Whatever he did, this is no way a person should be treated in a civilized country,” said the court, directing the prosecution to follow up the matter. 

The incident happened in Paceville at around 1.15am on Sunday when a foreign couple were allegedly robbed of their phones.

The man spotted the youth making away with the woman’s handbag, sparking the chase that was joined by a group of young people who caught the suspect, beat him and stopped him from getting away. 

As the suspect was being led away to the police van he told officers that he had ingested some pills. 

He was immediately escorted to hospital where he underwent examination, including CT scans and blood tests. 

Meanwhile, he was placed under police bail and was arraigned on Wednesday after being summoned to the St Julian’s police station.

The teen pleaded not guilty to two aggravated thefts of the mobiles worth some €1,000 each, involuntary damage to one of the devices, violently resisting arrest, insulting and threatening three police officers, failing to obey legitimate orders and breaching mask-wearing rules.

He was also charged with breaching bail granted last month, committing the offences when under a suspended sentence and relapsing. 

Legal aid lawyer Daniel Attard said that the accused could not recall what happened on Sunday. 

Prosecuting Inspector Brian Xuereb pointed out that the suspect had said he felt well when he faced police questioning.

There was also CCTV footage that captured the theft and the suspect had been found in possession of one of the stolen phones, the court was told. 

The defence lawyer did not request bail at this stage and the youth was remanded in custody. 

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