Man admits to stealing car, described in court as a 'social case'

'If you continue to screw up, you will go to prison,' the man was told by both his lawyer and the court

An unemployed man from Birkirkara has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the theft of a car from his hometown last month.

Police Inspector Ritienne Gauci arraigned Francois Micallef, 38, from Birkirkara before Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras on Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of the aggravated theft of a Peugeot 106 from the town which had taken place at around 4am on 19 September. 

Micallef, who appeared in the dock with his left arm in plaster, supported by a sling, was also charged with recidivism. The defence told the court that the man was a “social case.” 

At the request of defence lawyer Matthew Xuereb, the lawyer and the inspector were permitted to approach the magistrate’s bench to discuss the case.

The inspector told the court that the police had investigated a report about the theft of a car with no number plates from a parking lot in Birkirkara. CCTV footage had shown two men, one of whom was recognised as Tristan Farrugia Tedesco who has already been charged separately over the offence. The other man was identified as Micallef. 

Inspector Gauci told the court that the police had acted on a report received from a nearby residence which had led to the arrest of the accused.

Confirming his details as the arraignment began, Micallef told the court that he did not have a job but said he would sometimes go and help his brother.

He admitted the charges, confirming his plea when asked by the court.

When the magistrate warned him that the charges he faced carried a potential prison sentence of over 3 years, the accused called his lawyer over and spoke with him briefly, but ultimately confirmed his plea.

With regards to punishment, the magistrate explained that the charges ruled out a suspended sentence, although probation could possibly be imposed. A pre-sentencing report was also a possibility, pointed out the court.

The defence requested a pre-sentencing report to be drawn up and that the man be released on bail until the report was completed. Magistrate Galea Sciberras upheld the request, warning Micallef that if his probation officer informed the court that he was not cooperating with her, she would send him to prison.

“If you continue to screw up, you will go to prison,” the man was told by both his lawyer and the court.

The prosecution did not object to the bail request, in view of the fact that the man had already pleaded guilty and could not tamper with evidence.

The court instructed the man’s mother, who was present in court and with whom he would be staying whilst on bail, to inform the police were he to fail to comply with his bail conditions. Micallef was told off by the magistrate for shooting a dirty look at his mother, when she confirmed that she would.

The man was released on bail, which was secured by a €500 deposit and €5000 personal guarantee, in addition to standard bail conditions.