Fraudster's case to be re-decided after appeals court declares conviction null due to absent technicality

The original judgement was declared null because the case records did not show whether she had been given the opportunity to reconsider her guilty plea

Serial fraudster Annabel Camilleri Monreal’s latest conviction has been sent back to the court of Magistrates to be heard again, after an appellate court judge declared the original judgement null because the records of the case did not show whether she had been given the opportunity to reconsider her guilty plea or not.

Camilleri Monreal had been jailed for three years in January last year, after she had admitted to misappropriating €3,000 from a rental company in 2017, having failed to pay for renting a car. She had also admitted to having committed the crime during the operative period of a suspended sentence and recidivism.

Despite initially pleading not guilty, Camilleri Monreal had later admitted the charges as the compilation of evidence against her continued. It emerged in court that Camilleri had failed to pay for the rental of a Peugeot 207 and had left an outstanding bill of €3,617 which included €210 in fines and €480 for damage caused to the vehicle. 

At a late stage in the compilation of evidence, the owner of the vehicle had informed the court that the woman’s relatives had settled the outstanding debt and that he had forgiven her.

Camilleri Monreal had subsequently filed an appeal to her three year prison sentence, her lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri arguing that the according to law, when a guilty plea is filed, the magistrate is obliged to explain the repercussions of the plea and allow some time for the accused to reconsider their admission. This had not happened, or at least, had not been recorded as having happened in the acts of the case.

Deciding the appeal, Mr. Justice Aaron Bugeja observed that while it was probably the case that the first court had asked Camilleri to reconsider her plea, it could not be denied that this fact had not been minuted. The judge could not base his decision on a probability, he said.

For this reason the judge declared the original judgement null, sending the case back to the Court of Magistrates to be decided again, after the applicable warnings are given to the accused.

The woman has a long history of fraud convictions, with one judge observing that she was “a person who would do everything to scam every person she came into contact with, including her probation officer”.

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