A man with a “long criminal history” who turned over a new leaf while under preventive custody following an armed holdup, was handed a “moderate punishment” to sustain the progress he had registered. 

Marcus John Calleja, 48, had been accused of attempted theft following a botched robbery at a Zabbar confectionery one November evening in 2018, when a hooded aggressor had held up four persons, whilst ordering the shop owner to hand over money from the till. 

However, the robber’s plans had gone awry when his victims resisted him, engaging in a tussle with the intruder.

The man was arrested and arraigned, pleading not guilty to attempted aggravated theft, holding four persons against their will, carrying a firearm without a licence as well as having fired the revolver within a distance of less than 200 metres from an inhabited area.

He had been remanded in custody. 

As proceedings continued, the accused registered an admission.

The court, presided over by magistrate Rachel Montebello, observed that throughout the past 18 months which the accused spent under preventive custody, he had registered “a dramatic change in his behaviour.” 

While at the Corradino Correctional Facility, the man had been diagnosed with ADHD and was undergoing therapy.

That diagnosis and treatment meant that for the first time in his life, the man had embarked upon the path to seriously reform himself, a process which needed to be further sustained through a drug rehabilitation programme. 

Prison officials had testified about the progress registered by the accused who had even been entrusted with the task of helping out at the prison canteen. 

Such “substantial effort to reform” needed to be sustained, said the Court, pointing out that punishment had to be tailored in such manner as to strike a balance between the debt owed to society by the accused and his rehabilitation.

In the light of such considerations, the court condemned him to a 36-month jail term, less the period spent under preventive custody, together with an €800 fine. 

The court also placed the man under a three-year treatment order whilst ordering him to pay €5791.86 by way of court expenses. 

Inspectors Fabian Fleri, Lydon Zammit and Joanna Piscopo prosecuted.

Lawyer Ezekiel Psaila was defence counsel. 

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