Larnaca criminal court Thursday jailed Andreas Charalambous, aka ‘Arapis’ for six years in connection with conspiring to commit a felony and arson, charges stemming from the burning down of a betting shop in May last year.
Judge Stalo Hadjiyianni, in passing sentence noted that Charalambous’ leading role in masterminding the crimes carried out, since he promoted and paid for his two former co-defendants to execute his orders, his aim being the arson attack against the betting shop was a factor taken into consideration among others in deciding his sentence.
The court’s decision also referred to as serious aggravating factors for Charalambous, his previous convictions which point to his propensity for crime
Particular weight was given to the fact that Charalambous carried out the offences on May 12, 2015, just three months after his last conviction by a Larnaca court in a case concerning making threats of violence, for which he received a nine-month sentence, suspended for three years.
Charalambous had also been sentenced to six-months imprisonment, suspended for three years in a case tried in Limassol involving malicious damage to property.
In its decision, the court also noted the fact that he had carried out the offence within the three-year suspension period proved in the most obvious way a complete lack of respect by Chralambous of the law.
To his advantage the court took into consideration his personal and family circumstances, the psychological and health problems faced by his family, the lack of a monetary motive on his behalf and the fact that no lives were put in danger by the arson, without overlooking the fact that the damage to the premises were large, at €80,750.
He was sentenced to six years for each of the two charges brought against him, that is conspiracy and the arson, with a further six months for carrying a knife. The sentences will run concurrently.
The May 12, 2015 blaze at the Megabet Plus bookmakers at 5.30am was put out by the fire service and investigations concluded that the fire was maliciously set by people who smashed the glass on the aluminium front door of the premises before lighting the fire inside the building having doused it in petrol.
Saddam Qunbus and Mohamed Okla from Syria, who were arrested in connection with the case, later admitted to starting the fire and being paid to do so by rivals of the bookmaker’s owner Lazaros Philippou.
The two Syrians, who were jailed for three years last November, implicated Charalambous saying he was involved in the planning. Charalambous denied the arson charges.
In finding Charalambous guilty, court’s decision described the prosecution witnesses as objective and impartial, accepting all their testimony.
The court heard that Charalambous, on the other hand, had tried to overturn the evidence against him through unsworn statements made from the dock.
As for two defence witnesses, the court decision noted they appeared in court to serve the defendant, not the truth, describing them as totally unreliable in rejecting their testimony.
In its judgment, the court also stated that the prosecution had proved beyond all reasonable doubt the charges faced by Andreas Charalambous, namely conspiracy to commit a felony and arson, finding the defendant guilty on both charges.