Drug addict jailed for violent theft which led to death of elderly woman

The robbery was planned for cash to fuel drug habit

A 35-year-old drug addict was condemned to 12 years in prison sentence and fined €1,000 after he was found guilty of having, six years ago, been a party to two violent snatch and run incidents in Sliema, which resulted in the death of one of the victims.

Richard Attard was part of a gang of three who, on December 8, 2010, planned the robbery in the hope of getting some cash to fuel their drug habit.

The court, presided by Madam Justice Edwina Grima, heard how one of the accused had pounced upon 80 year old Rose Garroni, as she walked along Dingli Circus, in front of Nelson Apartments at around 7.15pm.

Since the elderly lady resisted the attack, the aggressor shoved her violently, causing her to fall and smash her head on the pavement. As the victim lay bleeding, the aggressor ran off with her bag to a getaway car, a dark Fiat Uno bearing registration plate BAD 189, the court was told.

Ms Garrone was later discovered lying senseless, in a pool of blood with her handbag strap still clutched in her hand and in a critical condition. She died later in hospital from severe head injuries. She also fractured her pelvis and leg.

The court observed that from the records of the case it appeared that the gang had intended to raid the victim's residence after finding her ID card and keys in the stolen bag, however this part of their plan was not carried out.

Following the aggression, the trio drove to Cottonera where they managed to get hold of some crack and shortly after, under the influence of the drug, drove back to Sliema to carry out the next part of their plan.

At around 8.15pm on that same day, a similar fate awaited another elderly resident. Maria Cassar, 88, was about to cross Manwel Dimech Street when a man, pulling up his jacket to hide his face, snatched her bag and ran off in the direction of St Mary Street. The victim's niece who happened to witness the whole episode, gave chase but, the court heard, the aggressor managed to get away.

The victim of the second aggression was left in a state of shock and suffered an injured shoulder.

The court declared the accused guilty of having participated in the two violent thefts, one of which led to the involuntary death of the victim. The man was also found guilty of the unlawful possession of a dangerous drug.

The €1,000 would be converted to a jail term upon failure of payment. The accused was also ordered to cover the court expenses related to the proceedings.