A suspect thief who was caught red-handed attempting to steal an antique painting from the house of a friend, was granted bail on Monday after pleading not guilty.

Nadim Abdul Gader Mharam, a 37-year old Libyan plasterer who has been living in Malta since 1996, was accused of aggravated theft and recidivism.

Prosecuting Inspector Trevor Micallef explained that the owner of a Gudja residence had reported that last Friday at around 7.30pm he had come face to face with the other man inside his home.

Mr Mharam had apparently gained entry after getting hold of a copy of the key to the front door of the residence.

The unwelcome visitor was found carrying an antique framed artwork and a set of weighing scales which he evidently had intended to steal, Inspector Micallef explained. 

After hearing submissions by both parties, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, upheld a request for bail against a personal guarantee of €15,000, an order to sign the bail book three times weekly and to abide by a curfew between 11.30pm and 7.30am.

Lawyer Martin Fenech was defence counsel.