A man who made off with a cash register from a grocery store held up the shopkeeper at gunpoint after having offered him sex with his wife as payment in kind earlier that day.

The thief was spared an effective jail term upon evidence that he has since mended his ways after seeking professional help.

Themistocles Attard, a 49-year-old Birżebbuġa resident, had landed under arrest in December 2018 as the suspect behind an armed robbery at a Sta Venera store.  

The armed man had entered the shop on December 8 at around 7pm, ordering the shopkeeper not to move, while leaning across the counter, the store owner had subsequently recounted in court. 

Grabbing the cash register, the intruder had rushed out of the shop, taking with him some €500 in cash. 

Thief offered man sex with his wife

That had not been the man’s first visit to the shop. 

That same day, the suspect had twice entered the store, selecting items off the shelves and later telling the shopkeeper that he didn't have the money to foot the bill.

Instead, he offered to pay in kind by suggesting that the shopkeeper could have sex with his wife and another woman.  

But the shopkeeper had twice turned down that offer, telling the cash-strapped customer to leave his shop. 

Later that evening the same “customer” returned for a third time, armed with a gun and after holding up the shop owner, making off with the takings, till and all. 

Upon his arraignment, the suspect originally pleaded not guilty to aggravated theft, holding his victim against his will, unlawful and unlicensed possession of a firearm, voluntary damage to third party property exceeding €250 and relapsing. 

Man pleads guilty to charges

However, as the case proceeded, the accused changed his mind, registering an admission earlier this month and confirming it after being given time to reconsider. 

Meanwhile, a probation officer who had closely followed the accused pending the court proceedings reported in court that the man had kicked his drug addiction and was seeking sessions with his psychologist to discuss personal matters. 

Moreover, he had since got a stable job and was even planning to set up his own business, the court was told. 

In light of such information and since the charges did not involve a jail term exceeding seven years, the accused could be spared imprisonment, observed the court, placing him under a three-year probation order.

The court also imposed a €698.81 fine for carrying the unlicensed weapon in public and ordered the accused to pay his victim €440.60 by way of expenses. It spelt out the consequences to be faced if he were to stray from the terms laid down in the probation order. 

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Lydon Zammit and Stacy Gatt prosecuted.  Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri were defence counsel. 

The court was presided by magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit. 

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