Two youths, who appear to have spent the past months sleeping rough in various central localities, were handed a suspended sentence after admitting to theft charges on Wednesday afternoon. 

Dutch-born Mitchel Ricardo Antonius Virginia, 27, and Rishil Rishikesh, a 25-year old Indian national, were escorted to court under arrest as the suspects behind two separate thefts, the latest one allegedly committed just hours before.

The duo was charged with stealing various goods from a Birkirkara supermarket on November 5. The total value of the items was less than €232.94.

Late on Tuesday night, the two suspect thieves allegedly targeted a Land Rover vehicle parked on a Balzan street, making off with a number of items belonging to the owner. 

The pair were jointly charged with simple and aggravated theft, as well as with leading a vagrant and idle life in various areas of Balzan and Birkirkara. 

Prosecuting Inspector Christabelle Chetcuti explained in court that police in the district had received a number of reports about the suspects who appeared to be sleeping rough around that central area of the island.

After consulting their lawyer, the youths registered an admission.

When making submissions on punishment, defence lawyer Josette Sultana pointed out that the accused had collaborated and returned all stolen items to the respective owners. 

That fact was confirmed by the prosecution. 

“They realised that they made a mistake,” explained the lawyer, pointing out further that one of the youths had a registered address with the Housing Authority. 

Both were non-Maltese nationals and needed help to find a shelter, the court was told. 

“Jail is not necessarily the solution,” argued Sultana, adding that the accused had both pleaded guilty at an early stage of the proceedings. 

In light of those submissions, the court, presided over by magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, declared the pair guilty upon their own admission and condemned each to a 12-month jail term suspended for 3 years. 

“If you commit another crime within the next three years, you will come back here and go to prison,” warned the magistrate, making sure that the accused understood the implications of their sentencing. 

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