Woman cleared of stealing van and tools in bizarre case

Antonella Vella was charged with aggravated theft after police found her partner unloading a stolen van, but said she was only visiting him to take drugs

A number of syringes were found at the scene
A number of syringes were found at the scene

A woman has been acquitted of stealing a van full of tools after she was found by police sitting next to a stolen van, explaining that she had only been there to shoot up some heroin. 

Antonella Vella, 36, was charged with aggravated theft of the vehicle containing €13,300 worth of tools and equipment, which had been parked outside its owner’s Tarxien home in June 2018.

The owner had found his van missing as he left for work at 5:30am the next day and had filed a police report, originally claiming that some €25,000 worth of tools and equipment had been inside the van. 

A short time later, he had come across the van, as it was being unloaded outside a building in Zejtun and called the police.

Police officers rushed to the scene and found Vella sitting on a doorstep, talking to her partner while he unloaded the van. Vella consistently denied having anything to do with the theft. 

She pleaded not guilty to damaging the van and to breaching three separate bail decrees and relapsing. 

Vella told the court that the Żejtun room had been rented out to her partner at the time and that she would only go there to take drugs, as she was forbidden from doing so at her mother’s home. 

She explained how, on the day of the theft, after her partner had invited her to visit, she had walked from her home in Fgura to her partner’s residence.

Vella said she did not have a key to the property and denied having helped the man unload the tools.

The owner subsequently testified that the value of the tools was €13,300, while the van had cost him €2500.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli, presiding over the case, observed that fingerprint and DNA evidence did not match those of the accused.

The court pointed out that the mere fact that the woman had been chatting to her partner at the time, did not make her an accomplice. Neither did CCTV footage disprove her claim to have been at her mother’s house earlier that day, it said.

In fact the woman’s claim to have visited her boyfriend’s house to take drugs appeared to have been corroborated by the number of syringes seen in photos taken by scene of crime officers, said the court.

The woman was, therefore, acquitted. Lawyer David Gatt was defence counsel.