18 months imprisonment for theft; Court suspects perjury

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A 42-year-old man was sent to eighteen months in prison after he was found guilty of theft. Teimuraz Datashvilli who is from Georgia and resides at San Ġwann was found guilty of breaking into a shop in San Ġwann and stealing €200 in cash and top-up cards which amounted to €250.

The man was accused of aggravated theft and damage to third party property.

The case happened during the early hours of 7 October 2018.

The shop employees upon opening in the morning had found a bed sheet on the floor and a cash drawer missing. There were also signs that someone broke into the shop. One of the shop employees recognised the accused from the CCTV footage, as he was a regular customer at the shop. She had testified that he could be seen trying to break in using an iron bar.

Datashvilli lived very close to the shop and was a regular customer. The shop employees themselves had informed the police upon seeing him loitering close to the shop two days later. The man was already on the bus when the police arrived, however the bus was eventually stopped and the man was taken in for questioning.

In his police statement, Datashvilli had told the police that he sometimes did shoplift some items however he had done this because the cashier would over charge him. However he denied breaking into the shop.

His wife had taken the witness stand. She had told the court that in October 2018 she shared her residence with her husband. She had testified that they would buy their daily needs from the shop. The woman had testified that both her and her husband were at home during the night of the 6th and 7th October 2018, saying that both were sleeping in the same bed.

The woman told the court that around 1am in the morning an acquaintance from Georgia had knocked at their door for a glass of water. She told the court that she would meet the man at church. After providing him with water she went back to sleep. The woman said that the man on the CCTV stills is the same person who knocked at their door.

During cross-examination it emerged that the woman had told the police that she was no longer with the accused. However this emerged to be untrue. She also said that she did not turn up at the police station when called because she wanted to know what her husband had done.

Datashvilli had said that he was asleep when the case happened. He had testified that he was a regular customer at the shop and was allowed to take things on credit and would then pay up later, contradicting an earlier statement given to the police. He had denied that the person caught on CCTV footage was him saying that the man was another Georgian person who was allegedly arrested after he was caught selling Vodafone and Go Mobile top-up cards. Datashvilli had said that he met the man inside the Police lock-up.

Datashvilli had said that he knew the man by sight.

A police official had testified that the indeed another Georgian was held inside the police lock up during the same time that Datashvilli was there, however he was arrested because he was in Malta without the necessary documents.

In a court presided over by Magistrate Joe Mifsud condemned the man to 18 months imprisonment and ordered him to pay €1,046.32 to the shop owner.

The court also ordered that a copy of the testimony given by Datashvilli and his wife is sent to the Police Commissioner for further investigation and to establish whether the couple had committed perjury.

The man will be repatriated immediately after serving time in prison.

Police Inspector Matthew Spagnol prosecuted.