Man cleared of receiving stolen TVs after court rules he could not have known they were stolen

Two large flatscreen Toshiba televisions, worth over €2000 in total, were stolen from a showroom in Paola, and months later they were found in possession of the individual

A court has cleared a man accused of receiving two stolen TVs in 2013, after ruling that he could not have known that the items were stolen.

The story began on Christmas Day in 2012, when two large flatscreen Toshiba televisions, worth over €2000 in total, were stolen from a showroom in Paola.

Months later the police received information that the televisions were in the possession of Pierre Cremona, who is well-known to the police. A subsequent search found two televisions of the same brand and size at Cremona’s father’s house. A check of the serial numbers positively identified them as the stolen televisions. The devices “were not in any way hidden,” noted the court.

Cremona was interrogated by the police and told them that he had bought them for €1,400 from a certain Grazio Calleja as part of a debt settlement. Calleja was also spoken to by the police and denied any knowledge of the TVs and denied selling them to the accused.

No fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime.

Calleja had testified, telling the court that he knew Pierre Cremona as a childhood friend. He said that when the police had questioned him, he had denied everything because he was on medication and was afraid of going to prison. He explained that he had gone to a certain Pawlu Zammit from Marsa, who was by then deceased and bought the two televisions as second hand for €900 and had then sold them on to the accused.

He claimed that these were sold on condition that they were not stolen, but sold them without a box or a remote control, which Zammit had promised to pass on to him, but never materialised.

The court of magistrates, presided by Magistrate Neville Camilleri examined the elements of the crime of handling stolen goods and relevant case law, which established that suspicion of illicit provenance of an object was enough proof of guilt for this crime.

It observed that the accused had provided an explanation of where and from whom he had obtained the stolen items and that this explanation “cannot be described as fantastical, but could easily be true.”

The court also noted that although Calleja had initially denied any knowledge of the crime, he had later testified before the court and explained that he had sold them and the reason why he had initially denied it.

The televisions were returned to their rightful owner, observed the court.

Ruling that none of the elements of the crime of handling or receiving stolen goods were present, the court cleared the accused of all guilt.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb appeared for the accused.