A man who held up a greengrocer store with a can of pepper spray last year was in a state of insanity in terms of law at the time of the crime, a special jury has declared.

Oliver Krautscheid, a 33-year old German national, had entered a store on Crèche Street, Sliema at 2.30pm on February 25 last year and made off with around €3,000 from the till. 

He was subsequently tracked down and charged with aggravated theft, holding the cashier against his will and possession of a prohibited weapon. 

His defence counsel raised the plea of insanity in April 2020, while proceedings were pending before the Magistrates’ Courts. Krautscheid was subsequently examined by a psychiatrist and then detained at Mount Carmel Hospital. 

The attorney general had contested the defence’s plea of insanity, leading to the court drawing up a special jury to determine whether Krautscheid was mentally impaired when the crime was committed.

Following a four-day trial presided over by Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja, jurors retired in chambers on Thursday afternoon and later that evening delivered a verdict of 7 votes in favour and two against, upholding the defence’s plea.

In light of that verdict, the Criminal Court ordered Krautscheid to be kept in custody at Mount Carmel Hospital according to the provisions of the Mental Health Act. 

Lawyers Ezekiel Psaila and Dunstan Camilleri were defence counsel. 

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