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Trio admit to stealing from car wash

Three people have been sentenced after they admitted to breaking into and stealing from an automatic car wash in Zebbug

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
7 August 2017, 3:29pm
All three accused had refused to consult a lawyer before releasing a statement to the police
All three accused had refused to consult a lawyer before releasing a statement to the police
Three people have been sentenced after they admitted to breaking into and stealing from an automatic car wash in Zebbug.

Inspector Kylie Borg arraigned 40-year-old Pier Paul Buttigieg from Birkirkara, together with Matthew John Migneco, 43, and Marisa Osthus, 48, both residing at the same address in Sliema, on charges of aggravated theft and criminal damage. Buttigieg alone was also accused of recidivism, having been found guilty for a number of offences in the past.

The theft occurred at around 2.00am during the night between 4 and 5 August.

All three accused, Buttigieg, who told the court he was unemployed, Osthus, who said she was involved in construction, rented property and hosted students for a living, and Migneco, a businessman, pleaded guilty to the charges.

All three accused had refused to consult a lawyer before releasing a statement to the police, inspector Borg informed the court, adding that the money stolen had not been returned. The inspector went on to explain that the victims had claimed the amount stolen to have been €1,700, but said that this amount "appeared to have been exaggerated." The damage caused to the equipment was estimated at €643.

In submissions on punishment, Mignieco's lawyer, Stephen Tonna Lowell asked the court to bear in mind that his client was an accomplice, not the principal offender, cooperated with police and had admitted guilt at an early stage. If the sum of damages were to be reliably established, Migneco would pay his share, the lawyer said.

Lawyer Veronique Dalli, appearing on behalf of Osthis, also argued that her client was an accomplice. Osthis had been charged with recidivism because she had been fined for a traffic offence in the past, the lawyer submitted. She was not a danger to society and more vulnerable than the other accused. Although the woman had been behind the wheel of the car, she had not actively participated in the crime committed by the other two, submitted the lawyer and this role should be reflected in her punishment.

Lawyer Leontine Calleja, representing Buttigieg in the proceedings, explained to the court that the man had a drug problem, which he needed assistance in addressing.

The court declared the trio guilty. In view of the differing circumstances and varying levels of participation of the accused individuals, it meted out punishment accordingly. Magnieco received a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for three years and placed on probation for two years, and Osthis was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, together with a two-year probation order.

In view of his voluminous criminal record, Buttigieg was jailed for one year.

All three were ordered to pay €350 each in compensation to Falzon Service Station together with another €220 each to make good for the damaged equipment.

The court stipulated that one of the conditions for the probation order would be to submit to regular drug tests.

“Make it clear to your clients that if they appear before me again, there will be no redemption,” the magistrate told the lawyers as the sitting ended.

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