No bail for drug addict charged with burglary

Man charged with breaching bail conditions which he had been placed under last May

File photo
File photo

A Valletta man has been remanded in custody on charges relating to two thefts which took place last year.

59-year-old Charles Cutajar appeared in the dock before magistrate Joe Mifsud on Wednesday morning, accused of two counts of aggravated theft. Cutajar was also charged with breaching bail conditions which he had been placed under last May.

Police Inspectors Jonathan Ransley and Roderick Agius charged Cutajar with the aggravated theft of a laptop from a Ta Xbiex pharmacy, as well as of tools from a residence in Zebbug. The thefts took place in May and November, respectively.

Inspector Ransley told the court that DNA found at the scene of the May burglary matched DNA recovered from a 2017 burglary involving Cutajar. The swabs also matched DNA recovered from the scene of the November break-in, which had taken place at a time when Cutajar had been on bail.

Lawyer Daniel Attard, representing the accused, explained that his client had been an in-patient at Mount Carmel Hospital since November and was expected to begin a drug rehabilitation program soon.

“I see your criminal record is a book so long that would give Trevor Zahra a run for his money,” the magistrate remarked to the accused.

“You don’t listen to people who try to help you… Caritas, Sedqa… then you go and steal from people’s houses, causing them worry and trauma. Your family worked hard to earn money and for what? You start with marijuana, grow a couple of plants - I don't agree with this - then you progress to cocaine and then heroin and then you go out stealing,” Magistrate Mifsud said, as the accused nodded in agreement.

The magistrate pointed out that the jurisdiction on how to proceed with the man’s rehabilitation lies with the prison director, saying that the court was not empowered to order it unless as part of a judgement.

“Drug traffickers profit from your misery, making money that they don’t put in bank accounts, but invest in property and boats,” he told the accused.

Attard asked the court to release his client on bail, suggesting the imposition of the condition that the accused continue to reside at Mount Carmel, in order to start rehab as soon as possible. “The court has the tools.. ,” the lawyer began to say.

“The court has tools that only reach only so far,” interrupted the magistrate. “He will now be assessed at Corradino and it is up to them [to send him to rehab]. I will not grant him bail… I don’t want him to be found on New Year’s Day, dead from an overdose. I don’t want that on my conscience.”

The court stressed that the prison director was to assess the man’s condition and come up with a way forward. The court could not order a person to be held at Mount Carmel, said the magistrate, adding that the law granted this power to the prison director.

“In 15 days, he will have to appear in court again [for his compilation of evidence to begin]… I don’t want to prejudice the case for whoever will hear it, I don’t want him to rob anyone else and I don’t want him to overdose and die.”