Two boys charged with multiple car thefts: ‘I’ll smash up this courtroom’

A magistrate has remanded in custody two boys, aged 14 and 15, who are charged with a series of car thefts and threatening a third party

A 14-year-old charged with multiple car thefts threatened to 'smash up the courtroom' as officers handcuffed him
A 14-year-old charged with multiple car thefts threatened to 'smash up the courtroom' as officers handcuffed him

A 14-year-old boy charged with multiple car thefts threatened to “smash” up the courtroom on Tuesday as he resisted being handcuffed to be taken in custody.

“Leave me alone or I’ll smash up this courtroom,” he shouted, as he resisted officers who moved to handcuff him.

The boy and another 15-year-old boy were remanded in custody after they were arraigned with a total of 23 charges, including stealing a number of cars and breaking into other vehicles in various locations around Malta.

Other charges against the boys included stealing number plates, changing vehicles’ number plates, driving without a licence or insurance, possession of a pointed instrument in public without the necessary police licence and insulting and threatening a third party, from whom they allegedly also stole a mobile phone.

They are also accused of stealing car keys and cash, as well as criminal damage to the vehicles.

Police said the majority of the offences took place between the 22 and 24 October. The accused were charged with complicity in theft. The younger accused was also accused of having stolen a car in August.

They were accompanied in court this morning by their parents and grandparents.

Probation officers and social workers were also present in the courtroom.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke heard Inspector Christabel Chetcuti explain that the two accused, one from Safi and the other from Mosta, were arrested whilst driving in a stolen vehicle in Birkirkara.

The accused both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lawyer David Gatt, appearing on behalf of the 15-year-old requested bail for his client. Lawyer Leontine Calleja, defending the 14-year-old, did not.

The prosecution objected to bail, adding that there was a substantial amount of charges. The charges “were very serious in my opinion,” remarked the inspector. The two were charged with complicity in a violent robbery, she added, explaining that there were many other people involved.

Gatt called the inspector to the stand. His client was a passenger in a stolen Isuzu, suggested the lawyer. “Yes,” replied the inspector.

“When the two accused were arrested, the elder was a passenger in the stolen car, being driven by the other accused,” she explained. In their possession were many things which had been previously reported stolen, added the inspector.

Gatt asked whether the stolen items were found on the person of the accused or in the car. Several stolen bank cards were found in the 15-year-old’s wallet, said the inspector, adding that searches had not been carried out at his home.

Making submissions on bail, the Inspector conceded that the younger accused had cooperated fully with the police. Many of the stolen items were recovered, including the vehicles and a bag allegedly stolen from Marsaskala.

“On the basis of the risk of them tampering with evidence, I ask that both of them be remanded in custody,” the inspector said.

Gatt argued that at the moment the court had before it “a minor who was a passenger in a car which is alleged by a third party as being stolen.” His client had opted not to answer questions, but “used his sacred right to silence,” said the lawyer, pointing out that the 15-year-old had no criminal record, unlike the other accused.

Gatt argued that his client had been “at the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong person”. “Should he be denied his freedom? All he was doing was sitting in the passenger seat of an Isuzu which turned out to be stolen,” said the lawyer, adding that his client could not tamper with evidence as he doesn’t even know who the witnesses are.

“Did he have mischievous discretion? Even a 17-year-old would be presumed less culpable. He made a mistake, clearly.”

The court, after hearing the parties, in view of the alleged crimes imputed to the accused, the fear of tampering with evidence, and the circumstances surrounding the case, denied bail.

The court ordered a ban on the publication of the accused’s names on account of their age.