Burglar acquitted of robbing showroom... after he paid for damages

Man acquitted of robbing a car showroom, after court declares payment for losses incurred could not be construed as an admission of guilt

A court has acquitted a man accused of robbing a car showroom, noting that payment for the losses incurred could not be construed as an admission of guilt.

Birkirkara resident Wayne Falzon had been accused of breaking into a Sliema car showroom and stealing hi-fi equipment and car accessories, as well as causing damage to the showroom. The break-in had taken place on 12 Februrary 2008.

Falzon was charged with theft, aggravated by means, value and nature of the thing stolen. He was also accused of recidivism, as he had previous convictions. 

Magistrate Josette Demicoli, presiding the case, had heard a police sergeant testify to receiving the report of the break-in from the showroom’s owner, whose employees had opened his shop to find five cars missing their stereo and one car missing its 18 inch alloy rims.

The police established that the thief had gained entry to the showroom from a window leading on to an open shaft on an adjacent building site.

The victim had testified to having suffered an estimated €2,300 loss. He confirmed that he had been reimbursed for some of the damages by the accused who would pass on money to him through the police, but a balance of €1,000 remained outstanding.

Police had questioned a former employee in connection with the theft, but he had denied any involvement in the crime. He testified that he had been employed with the victim some 12 years prior and told the court how the victim had called him up and accused him of robbing him, but that he knew nothing about the burglary.

Police Inspector Kurt Zahra exhibited copies of two statements released by the accused in 2012, after he had been allowed to speak to a lawyer.

The court, however, noted several problems with the prosecution’s case. It observed that it had been told that a magisterial inquiry had been set up, but that this inquiry had not been exhibited in the case. 

In addition to this, there was no evidence placing the accused in the showroom at the time of the theft or that it was him who had stolen the stereos and rims. The statements exhibited were only copies and the signatures on them had not been confirmed in open court.

There was also the issue of the man’s statement, which had to be ignored by the court as he had not been assisted by his lawyer as he was giving it. Even had it not been ignored, said the court, “it could only implicate the accused in part of a charge and nothing more.”

Noting that it had emerged that the showroom owner had received a payment of €3,000 from the accused, the court said that “although one could deduce or presume,” this could not be considered as an admission when the businessman himself had not given any detail about what this payment was for.

Having considered the evidence, the court said that it would not be finding the accused guilty of any of the charges against him.

Lawyer Daniel Attard was defence counsel.