Drunk unemployed woman rams Mercedes into shop over argument with non-paying tenant

Driver of Mercedes Benz, an unemployed woman, rams Ħamrun shop after argument with non-paying tenant, court is told

File photo
File photo

An unemployed single mother of three from Ħamrun has been remanded in custody after allegedly ramming a Mercedes Benz into a shop front on Easter Sunday, while drunk.

From what emerged in court today, the incident is understood to have been intentional, prompted by a dispute with a male tenant of the defendant's who was refusing to pay her.

Sonia Sammut, 35, from Ħamrun was arraigned before magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace on Monday, charged with having caused over €2,500 worth of damage to a Ħamrun confectionery on Easter Sunday, when she rammed her Mercedes Benz into the shop’s shutter, while drunk.

Police Inspector Kathleen Zerafa also charged Sammut with voluntarily causing damage to the car, which is registered to a third party, drunk-driving, driving the car without a driver’s licence or insurance. She was also charged with driving in a dangerous, reckless and careless manner and breaching the peace. Sammut was additionally charged with recidivism.

Inspector Zerafa explained that the damage had been caused by the defendant who, while behind the wheel of the car without a licence or insurance cover, drove it into the confectionery's shutter, also damaging fridges inside the shop.

Two employees had been inside the shop at the time, counting the day’s takings, she said.

CCTV footage showed that the woman had intentionally driven into the shopfront, before reversing out and ramming into it again, added the inspector. Sammut had been aiming to hit one of the shop’s employees, with whom she had a dispute over rent and had traded insults.

The woman was “visibly very drunk” and had failed a breathalyser test at the scene, Inspector Zerafa explained. “It was by the grace of God, that nobody was injured. We are talking about a car… had someone been standing behind the shutter the outcome would have been different.”

Lawyer Jose Herrera informed the court that the defendant would be pleading “not guilty for now” and requested bail.

The prosecution objected to the request on the grounds of the gravity of the offences, also arguing that witnesses were yet to testify.

Herrera argued that the woman only had one previous conviction, dating back years. Hers was not a “terrifying” criminal record, he said.

“The gravity of the crime - we are talking about voluntary damage, not minimal, true. God forbid bail be refused on these grounds for this crime, which is one of the least serious in the Criminal Code,” he submitted.

The lawyer added that CCTV footage of the incident had already been preserved and the defendant had released a statement to the police, cooperating “all the way.”

“She is not a dangerous terrifying person, she is a woman who was under the influence of alcohol,” the lawyer said.

She is also a single mother of three, two of whom are less than eight years of age. “If she goes to prison, who is going to take care of them?” he asked.

The lawyer disputed the backstory described by the prosecution, claiming that the alleged victim had threatened Sammut in a dispute over rent. “He didn’t want to pay and threatened her. She had a bit of extra alcohol in her system, because of the Easter celebrations,” said the lawyer, submitting that in the worst-case scenario, “if she did what she is accused of having done, she did so in the heat of the moment.”

The court rejected the request for bail, ordering Sammut to be remanded in custody, while soliciting the prosecution to bring its civilian witnesses to testify without delay.