Man charged with stealing fuel from construction machinery, remanded in custody

A man, 38, from Xemxija has been remanded in custody after being accused of stealing fuel from construction machinery

A 38-year-old man from Xemxija has been remanded in custody after being accused of stealing fuel from construction machinery.

Inspector Ritienne Gauci arraigned Stefan Cutajar before magistrate Astrid May Grima on Friday, on charges of theft and attempted theft of fuel belonging to Naxxar-based construction company, Ballut Blocks, as well as recidivism.

Cutajar was accused of stealing the fuel on his first attempt, on March 13, but had been arrested when he tried to repeat the crime during the night of March 22.

The defendant, who told the court that he was unemployed, denied the charges. His lawyer, Yanica Barbaro Sant made a request for bail.

The request was objected to by the prosecution, which pointed out that in addition to being unemployed, Cutajar was also a drug addict and that drug-related paraphernalia had been found in his possession at the time of his arrest. “I fear that he will resort to theft again,” inspector Gauci submitted, also arguing that his criminal record indicated his untrustworthy character. The defendant has at least six previous convictions, five of which were for theft, stretching back to 2006.

A civilian security guard was also yet to testify, the police inspector submitted.

For the defence, Barbaro Sant argued that there were no pending proceedings against Cutajar and that he had not been out on bail at the time the alleged offences took place. “I can’t understand why the prosecution is mentioning his past. It doesn’t mean he’s going to do it again,” said the lawyer, adding that the defendant was already in discussions with Caritas about starting a drug rehabilitation program. “He needs help, not prison,” said the lawyer.

Moreover, she said, the incident had been recorded by CCTV cameras and was therefore already preserved. It was not necessary to detain him “over just one witness”, submitted Barbaro Sant. 

The court, pointing to the accused’s criminal record, disagreed and ordered that Cutajar be remanded in custody, whilst also urging the authorities to provide him with the necessary assistance.