Parents denied bail in case over mobile contract default

Bulgarian man appeared in court after being arrested on European Arrest Warrant, for breaching bail in a case over a mobile contracy default

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
15 September 2017, 7:48am
A Bulgarian man has appeared in court after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant issued for breaching bail in a case over a mobile contract default.

Police brought Atanas Yorgov 42, from Varna, Bulgaria before Magistrate Gabriella Vella on Monday.

Yorgov and his wife had been placed on the wanted list by Poland after he left the country, despite having been on bail pending criminal proceedings.

They had been convicted of having purchased two mobile phones at a discount in 2010 with no intention of honouring their contract. The district court in Trzebnica had sentenced Atanas Yorgov to one year’s imprisonment, conditionally suspended for two years. This sentence was rendered executable in 2012, after the court was told that they had evaded the obligation to make good for the financial damage they caused the company. They had then failed to turn up when summoned to a penitentiary institution to serve their sentence.

In October 2014, the Yorgovs had been arrested in the UK and transferred to Poland on another European Arrest Warrant which did not mention the previous jail sentence. They were released on bail in June 2015. Their subsequent failure to abide by bail conditions – which stipulated that they must stay at their place of residence – rendered them a fugitive from justice, according to a decision by the District Court in Trzebnica in May 2016.

In court today, defence lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell summoned their employer, who told the court that the couple had been working at his hotel for the past four years. The husband works in laundry, supervising 8 employees and his wife was a supervisor in the housekeeping department.

The couple are also parents to a 7-year-old girl, who is currently being cared for by her aunt, explained the lawyer. They had not given any problems to their employers, said their boss. “If they had, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be here if they weren’t good workers and if I wasn’t prepared to step in as a guarantor for them.”

The magistrate asked whether he was aware that he would be personally liable for the guarantee if they absconded whilst on bail.

The couple’s boss said that he had looked into their backgrounds and felt that the conviction was not for a serious crime. “It is a normal, simple offence. In the rooms that they inspect, the clients often have valuables in their rooms and I have had no problems with these two employees. They had gone abroad to England in the past.”

Lawyer Matthew Xuereb, from the Office of the Attorney General pointed out that the pair had been given an opportunity by a Polish court, despite their guilt and had violated the conditions of their suspended sentence. But Tonna Lowell replied that nobody should be arraigned under arrest for not paying a service charge. 

“The charges do not merit arrest. That being said I understand the serious nature of the EAW.. .there are procedures that must be adhered to but in so doing we must not violate a person’s rights. We have two persons who are good employees and who have a child. We are not surrendering today because there are a number of things we need to sort out. But what is the point of refusing bail to persons who are not accused of a serious offence and who aren’t a threat, as guaranteed by their employer?”

The court, however, denied bail, despite having heard the couple’s boss declare that he was prepared to provide a financial guarantee for bail, saying it felt that as there was an effective jail sentence against them, the court was not satisfied that they would not attempt to flee the country.

The child was in the care of her aunt and therefore there was no apparent insurmountable problem for the care and custody, ruled the magistrate.

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