A 26-year-old man has been charged with aggravated theft after luring a tourist away from a bar and into a field in Qawra.

Aaron Alovia, who is from Nigeria and lives in St Paul’s Bay was arraigned in front of Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit on Monday accused of having stolen a mobile phone and a wallet from a British man that he met in a bar in Qawra.

The alleged victim, a man from the UK currently on holiday in Malta, testified that he was having a drink at a bar not far from the hotel he is staying at when he met the accused.

Alovia, he said, had introduced himself as being out with friends and struck up a conversation with him.

Shortly after, Alovia told him that he was gay and that his friends didn’t know, the Englishman said, asking him to move away from the bar to have a conversation in private.

After moving to the steps of a closed bar, Alovia expressed discomfort at still being too close to his friends and asked him to go back with him to his apartment, he said. The victim refused but agreed to walk further away with the accused to an empty lot that was overgrown with foliage in the vicinity.

The Englishman said that while he had agreed to perform oral sex on Alovia, things took a turn when the accused asked to penetrate him.

He said after he refused Alovia sex, the latter grabbed him forcibly by the arm and held him against his will.

“I was afraid,” the victim said, his face flush and voice shaking.

“I said ‘please’ and he said nothing. I told him ‘at least use a condom’ and again he said nothing.” 

The victim said that Alovia then proceeded to reach into his pockets and take his phone and his wallet, pushed him over and ordered him not to get up.

It was after this ordeal that the man called for assistance and went to the police station to file a report.

The Englishman said that his wallet contained a few bank cards and some €15 to €20 in cash. All that was left in his pockets was a packet of cigarettes.

Asked by Alovia’s lawyer why he had agreed to follow him to a secondary location, the victim said he sympathized with the story the accused told him of being closeted.

“He seemed nice and I liked the attention. Having once been a gay man in the closet myself, I could sympathize,” he said.

The prosecution objected to bail for fear of tampering with evidence and that the accused presented a risk of absconding.

Alovia, they said, didn’t appear to have permission to live in Malta, having no work or visa documents other than an Italian ID card. The accused didn’t know his address as he had recently moved and had no fixed employment, taking piecemeal work in the construction industry when he could.

The magistrate adjourned the case to Friday and said bail would be deliberated then, to give the accused time to prove he had a stable residence and employment. Alovia was remanded in custody in the interim.

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