A 39-year-old man has been jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to a hold-up on a Gżira Convenience Store.
John Paul Charles Woods, born in the UK, was charged on Monday with the hold-up, threatening the Indian shopkeepers, damaging the store and resisting arrest.
Over the weekend, it emerged that Woods may have been connected to the disappearance of 25-year-old Charlene Farrugia, 11 years ago. The Farrugia disappearance was not brought up in court this morning.
It is understood the police are still compiling evidence on the young woman’s disappearance in Valletta. Remains of a human body found in a secluded cave in Valletta are believed to be the woman’s.
One News reported on Monday that Farrugia was killed in her Qawra apartment shortly after she went missing 11 years ago.
Speaking to sources close to the investigation, the media house reported that Woods is expected to be charged with the murder once DNA testing to identify the victim are concluded. The remains are being tested against DNA swabs taken from her relatives. The tests are being carried out locally.
According to the report, Woods knew Farrugia for many years before her disappearance. One News said Woods is being treated as the main suspect in the case.
Woods entered the courtroom on Monday with a swollen cheek and two bandaged fingers on his left hand and one bandaged finger on the right.
He seemed calm and composed as the court read out the charges against him. When asked whether he confirms his guilty plea, he said yes.
The prosecution submitted an audio-visual statement of the accused, CCTV footage and a quantifiable estimate of the damages incurred by the shop.
He also breached two probation orders and was charged as a recidivist.
Since Woods pleaded guilty, the court sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. Four of these were the penalty for the hold-up, while three further years were for breaching the two probation orders.
He was also fined €4,200.
Magistrate Charmaine Galea presided. Legal aid lawyer Christopher Chircop was defence counsel, while inspectors Fabian Fleri, Jonathan Ransley and Lydon Zammit prosecuted.