Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Judge orders retrial of VRT operator who admitted to falsifying certificates

The Court of Criminal Appeal has ordered the retrial of a man who was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to falsifying VRT certificates, because he had been led to believe that he would simply be given an extension to a suspended sentence

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
18 July 2017, 2:02pm
The Court of Criminal Appeal has ordered the retrial of a man who was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to falsifying VRT certificates, because he had been led to believe that he would simply be given an extension to a suspended sentence.

The Court of Appeal, presided by judge Giovanni Grixti, heard how 52-year-old Jesmond Pulis from Zabbar, who runs the XTC Towing Services garage had claimed that his admission was vitiated.

Pulis said that the police had given him reason to believe that if he pleaded guilty, he would either be given community service or an extention to a suspended sentence that he was already under at the time.

Pulis had done so, refusing legal assistance in the process. But after he had been arraigned before magistrate Ian Farrugia and pleaded guilty, ignoring the court's warnings about the possible consequences, he had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment, together with a €10,000 fine. In addition to this, the court had banned him from holding a licence allowing him to operate a VRT station for 15 years and executed the suspended sentence, tacking a further two years of imprisonment on the original three.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Grixti reminded that the rights of the person accused of a crime do not begin with his arraignment, but from the time of his arrest. He had been persuaded to admit to charges that he had not been shown or given a copy of. Nor had the charges been read out in court, being taken as read to save time.

The judge observed that it was clear that the accused had not known that the charge of trading in influence carried with it a three-year prison sentence.

An examination of what took place before the arraignment had to be made, the Court of Criminal Appeal said, because it clearly had an effect on proceedings before the magistrate.

The Court of Magistrates had done nothing wrong, the judge said, but highlighted the importance of ascertaining whether or not a person accused had not only understood the minimum and maximum punishment that he could receive but that he also understand each individual charge. The importance of this was increased when a person accused was not assisted by a lawyer.

For these reasons, the court upheld Pulis' appeal and cancelled the sentence, ordering the case to be returned to the Court of Magistrates and retried.

Lawyer Roberto Montalto assisted Pulis at the appeal stage.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...