A supermarket owner was yesterday charged with extorting €1,000 from a 70-year-old woman after threatening to report her to the police for stealing a packet of Weetabix and a bag of small Easter eggs.

Raymond Borg, the 45-year-old owner of V and F Supermarket in Sir Adrian Dingli Street, Sliema, pleaded not guilty to extortion, attempted extortion and harassing and threatening the woman last week. The incident came to light when the woman went to the police and admitted to suffering from a form of kleptomania, which made her unintentionally take items of minimal value.

Two years earlier, she said, she had unintentionally walked out of the same supermarket with a packet of Weetabix that she had failed to pay for. A friend of Mr Borg caught her. The friend said he would have to tell Mr Borg and later that evening the owner phoned her and told her to go to the shop. There, he demanded €1,000 and threatened to report her to the police if she did not pay up.

She gave him the money in cash.

Police Inspector Jason Sultana told Magistrate Marseann Farrugia that last week she went to the shop to buy some icing sugar but, as she paid him, she also took a small packet of Easter eggs worth €2.50.

Mr Borg later phoned her and asked her to come to the shop. He took her into his office and started shouting at her. He hit her purse out of her hands and, calling her a thief, demanded €500. She wrote out a cheque and left. The following day she phoned the chairman of Bank of Valletta, John Cassar White, to tell him what had happened and he advised her to get a lawyer who advised her to contact the police.

During the arraignment yesterday, Mr Borg requested bail. Magistrate Farrugia granted bail against a deposit of €1,000 and a personal guarantee of €3,000.

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