Three charged with stealing equipment from building site

They were accused of stealing thousands of euro worth of building equipment from a construction site in Kalkara on April 17

Investigators found that CCTV footage showed that the thieves had been stealing from the property
Investigators found that CCTV footage showed that the thieves had been stealing from the property

One man has been jailed and two others have been remanded in custody after they were arraigned in court, accused of stealing thousands of euro from a construction site in Kalkara on April 17.

Brendan Cachia, 35, from Vittoriosa, Ramon Abela,46, from Cospicua and Josephine Alsulayman, 46 who has no fixed address were arraigned on aggravated theft charges before magistrate Victor Axiaq on Tuesday.

Cachia was separately charged with stealing items from a garage in Cospicua on April 11, as well as another theft from Hamrun on 13 April. The man was further charged with breaching his bail conditions and failing to report to the police headquarters when ordered to do so.

Abela was further charged with breaching bail conditions and recidivism, whilst the other two accused were also accused of recidivism.

Before the sitting began, Alsulayman had to be repeatedly told not to attempt to talk with her co-accused by the escorting police officers.

The court heard how the police had been investigating a theft from a construction site in Kalkara, a house being built. That same night, the victim and owner of the property, who happened to be a police officer, noted three people inside the site. He managed to detain and arrest one of them, Ramon Abela. 

Investigators found that CCTV footage showed that the thieves had been stealing from the property all day. The other two accused were identified from the footage. Arrest warrants were issued, leading to Cachia’s arrest yesterday. Alsulayman was arrested this morning.

During the course of the police investigation it emerged that Abela had been involved in other thefts from Hamrun and Cospicua.

Cachia’s legal aid defence counsel, lawyer Martin Fenech, was allowed to approach the magistrate’s bench together with the prosecuting officers, where a discussion took place.

When the case continued, Alsulayman, who told the court that she does odd-jobs, pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.

She was followed by Cachia, who entered an admission to the charges . The court asked him if he knew the consequences of this admission. “Yes. Three years in jail” replied the accused man, confidently. He later repeated his guilty plea when asked by the court at the end of the sitting.

The prosecution exhibited documentation relating to the investigation into Cachia, to allow the magistrate to make an informed decision on the man’s punishment..

Abela was next to be asked how he pleaded. “Not guilty,” he said. The evidence against him will eventually be exhibited in the compilation of evidence against him.

Fenech requested bail on behalf of his clients Alsulayman and Cachia.

The prosecution objected to the release on bail of both, basing their objections on the fear of tampering with evidence and subornation of witnesses, as well as the two accused’s untrustworthy characters. Their criminal records could not give the court peace of mind, he said, also highlighting their acute drug problems, observing that this had led them to neglect their personal care and nutrition.

Alsulayman did not have a fixed address, the court was told.

Fenech submitted that the principal witness was a police officer. The accused did not know the identities of the victims or eyewitnesses, he added.

Ellul cited judgments from the ECHR in Strasbourg on the issue of bail, also echoing his colleague’s argument about the main witness being a police officer.

The court, after hearing the bail submissions, said the criminal record of the accused raised a significant doubt in the mind of the court as to whether or not they could be trusted whilst on bail. In the case of Alsulayman, the fact that she did not have a fixed place of residence was also a determining factor in the court’s decision, said the magistrate.

Bail was denied. 

In view of his guilty plea, Cachia was jailed for three years and placed under a three year treatment order to address his addiction to illegal drugs.

The court also ordered the man to compensate the victims for the stolen items. A restraining order was issued in favour of the victims. 

Lawyer Martin Fenech represented Abela and Alsulayman. Lawyer Ryan Ellul appeared for Cachia in the proceedings.

Inspectors Lydon Zammit, Stephen Gulia and Kurt Farrugia prosecuted.