Mechanic given suspended sentence for dismantling stolen BMW

Mechanic who bought stolen car for parts gets suspended sentence

The mechanic received the stolen vehicle, which he then started to strip for parts
The mechanic received the stolen vehicle, which he then started to strip for parts

A mechanic who bought a car which had been stolen, with the aim of stripping it for parts, has been handed a suspended sentence by the court.

Charlot Falzon, 35, was accused of having, in April 2019, received stolen goods - a BMW 5-series vehicle - to the detriment of its owner, Pauline Ellul. He was also charged with relapsing.

Ellul had reported to the police in Qormi that her car, which had been parked for a number of days at the Marsa Park and Ride, had gone missing.

The police had tried to glean information about what happened to the car by analysing CCTV footage from the area. It resulted that the vehicle's license was expired and that it had not been in use.

A few days later, Ellul returned to the Qormi police station and said that her car had been found in a garage in Żurrieq owned by Charlot Falzon, known as il-Ħasi.

She had received word that her car was in Fazon's garage after her friend had gone to the mechanic for some parts and notice the vehicle there.

Ellul said that it appeared Falzon had already started stripping the BMW for parts.

When confronting the mechanic about how her car had ended up in his possession, Falzon said that a certain Owen Camilleri had brought the car to him, after which they had agreed to exchange the BMW for a Peugeot which Falzon had.

Ellul subsequently agreed with Falzon that he would reassemble the car and return it to her.

Despite some time having passed from the date of this agreement, however, it became apparent that no progress was being made in terms of putting the vehicle back together.

Officers subsequently went to Falzon's garage and seized the car, taking it to the police garage in St Andrew's for investigations.

The police also questioned Falzon, who told them that Camilleri had part-exchanged a Peugeot 406 for the BMW, since Falzon worked on BMW cars. Falzon had also paid Camilleri €3,500 for the car.

A problem emerged, however, due to the lack of available space in Falzon's garage. It was then decided that Falzon and Camilleri would strip the car to sell its parts.

In court testimony, Ellul said that she had purchased the BMW 11-years-ago, having already paid around €49,000 to date to the dealer and highlighting that she was still paying installments on it. On top of that, she had also paid €23,000 in customs duty on it.

Ellul said that the car was still in good condition and had low mileage. She said that she had told Falzon, when confronting him, that this should have set off alarm bells that it was stolen.

Falzon, however, had claimed that Camilleri told him he had scrapped the car since he wanted to get rid of it because of its expensive road license. The mechanic also claimed Camilleri had given him the car's key, while Camilleri maintained the opposite.

Despite saying the car had been scrapped - and the fact that the vehicle was missing its number plates - Camilleri had never provided Falzon with documents to attest to this.

The court considered that, as a mechanic, Falzon should have known of the importance of obtaining the necessary documentation from Camilleri proving the vehicle had been scrapped.

This, the court said, showed that Falzon must have known the vehicle was stolen. In light of this, it said that it had been sufficiently proven that Falzon had accepted stolen goods. It therefore found him guilty in this regard.

In terms of the charge of relapsing, the court determined this had not been proven, and it therefore declared the accused not guilty of recidivism.

The court went on to sentence Falzon to 20 months in prison, suspended for three years.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech presided over the case.

Lawyer Alfred Abela appeared for the accused.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia appeared parte civile for the victim.