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Buyers of stolen iPad have sentence reduced on appeal

A man and a woman who were jailed for handling a stolen an iPad have had their sentences reduced on appeal

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
24 July 2017, 4:33pm
The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by judge Antonio Mizzi, observed that the victim had never been summoned to testify before the Court of Magistrates in order to establish how much he had originally bought the device for
The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by judge Antonio Mizzi, observed that the victim had never been summoned to testify before the Court of Magistrates in order to establish how much he had originally bought the device for
A man and a woman who were jailed for handling a stolen iPad have had their sentences reduced on appeal.

In 2015, 28-year-old Francois Ellul and Rowena Garcia, 26, had both been jailed for five months after being convicted of having bought a stolen iPad worth €800 in 2012.

The stolen tablet computer had been tracked using its inbuilt GPS system, leading the police to the couple outside the Msida Detox Centre. Upon being apprehended by police with the stolen iPad in their possession, the two told the officers that they had bought it from a certain Renaldo Rotin. Rotin was also apprehended and sentenced following his admission of theft, in separate proceedings. 

Taking the witness stand, Rotin confirmed that he had intended to sell the stolen device to Ellul for €100, after a chance encounter at a bus stop in Marsa. Rotin claimed that he had informed Ellul that the iPad was stolen but both Ellul and Garcia, who was accompanying Ellul at the time, were unperturbed by this, accepting the iPad and promising payment at a later date. 

Ellul had filed an appeal, arguing that the punishment was excessive and that the person who had sold it to him had not informed him that it was stolen. Garcia, too, had appealed, her lawyer arguing that she had only been a passenger in the car in which the transaction had taken place. 

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by judge Antonio Mizzi, observed that the victim had never been summoned to testify before the Court of Magistrates in order to establish how much he had originally bought the device for. Ellul had told the court that he had paid €150 for it, whilst Grima had said that the seller had asked for €250. 

Mr Justice Mizzi dismissed the appeal on the merits, holding that  the reasoning of the court of first instance in finding guilt was sound. But after taking into consideration the evidence tendered by a medical expert, who told the court that a custodial sentence would be counter-productive, it slashed Garcia's punishment to a six-month conditional discharge. Ellul's five-month prison sentence was reduced to three months.  

Lawyer David Gatt appeared for Garcia. Lawyer Marc Sant was defence counsel to Ellul.

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