Bailed youth, 19, charged with crashing stolen motorcycle into parked cars

A 19-year-old man from Marsa has been charged with multiple offences, including handling stolen goods, dangerous driving, and breaching bail conditions, after allegedly crashing a stolen motorcycle into parked cars

A 19-year-old man from Marsa has been charged after allegedly crashing a stolen motorcycle into parked cars, while out on bail for another offence.

Brandon Cassar appeared in the dock before magistrate Leonard Caruana on Thursday, arraigned under arrest by Inspector Sarah Kathleen Zerafa and Inspector Clayton Camilleri. Cassar, who told the court that he was unemployed, pleaded not guilty to charges of handling stolen goods -in this case a Kymco motorcycle - driving it without a licence and without insurance cover, dangerous and reckless driving, causing damage to two cars and breaching bail conditions he had been handed on Christmas eve, last December. 

Lawyer Jonathan Abela assisted the accused, who appeared before the court with his left arm in a sling.

Inspector Zerafa told the court that on February 14, at 8:30pm, the Ħamrun police station had been informed of a crash involving a motorcycle and two cars, one of which had been parked.

The driver of the other car had told the police that the motorcyclist had fled on foot, after the driver’s efforts to restrain him were unsuccessful.

As part of the investigation, the police had checked recent hospital admissions for injuries compatible with this type of traffic accident, and a person with such injuries was indeed found. Further investigations and CCTV footage confirmed that the patient in question, Cassar, had been the rider involved in the accident, said the inspector.

As the motorcycle was found to have been previously reported as stolen, during the arrest, the accused was initially informed that he was being arrested on suspicion of theft.

However, as the police did not find evidence that Cassar had actually committed the theft, he was instead charged with handling stolen goods, explained the inspector, adding that he was further charged with breaching bail conditions he was under in connection with a separate case.

The prosecution requested that if found guilty, the court also impose a driving ban.

Abela informed the court that his client was pleading not guilty and requested bail for the accused.

He asked the inspector whether the CCTV footage obtained by the police showed the perpetrator to have been wearing a crash helmet. That was true she replied, but in addition to the footage, Cassar had been taken to hospital by his father. Inside his father’s car, police found a partially cut up t- shirt identical to the one the perpetrator is seen to be wearing in the CCTV footage.

Inspectors Zerafa and Camilleri objected to the man’s release on bail, on the grounds that the accused was not trustworthy. “He had already been released on bail on Christmas eve,” said the inspector. “He must be made aware that bail conditions are there to be obeyed to the letter. He doesn’t seem to understand that he must be more careful when on bail than when not.”

In his submissions, Abela said it appeared that the accused had been arrested at hospital simply because he had compatible injuries. “At first glance there is nothing tying the accused to the incident in question, because the offender was wearing a crash helmet. The t-shirt allegedly found was not in his possession but in his father’s,” said the lawyer. Cassar had consistently told the police that he had broken his arm by falling down the stairs at home, both at the time of his arrest and in his statement, added the lawyer.

The accused momentarily covered his mouth to stifle a laugh while his lawyer made bail submissions on his behalf.

Replying to the defence’s submissions, Inspector Zerafa added that the accused’s injuries were more compatible with a road accident than a fall and that civilian witnesses, in this case the other driver, had not yet testified. 

The court, making reference to the relative dispositions of the Criminal Code, refused bail at this stage, saying this was primarily because of the civilian witnesses. The magistrate solicited the prosecution to bring these witnesses to testify as quickly as possible.