Mechanic pleads guilty after police discover stolen cars in Qormi garage

Police discover stolen cars, leading to mechanic's admission to stealing stolen goods and destroying evidence

The arrest of a Bulgarian mechanic led police to the discovery of a garage where stolen cars were being dismantled and sold for parts, a court was told on Wednesday.

This emerged as Miroslav Mihalev, a 34-year-old from Ħal Qormi, was arraigned before Magistrate Abigail Critien on Wednesday, accused of having handled stolen goods and destroying evidence of a crime between October 30 and November 6 in a parking area at Tal-Ħandaq.

The court was told that Mihalev admitted to the crimes during questioning and repeated his admission in court, pleading guilty after being given the opportunity to change his plea.

Prosecuting police inspectors Jeffrey Scicluna, Shawn Pawney and Stephen Gulia were permitted to approach the bench together with defence lawyer Jacob Magri to discuss the case privately.

In his submissions on punishment, Magri asked the court to impose the minimum punishment in the light of the defendant’s ongoing assistance to the police investigation. MIhalev had been living in Malta for over 11 years and had strong ties to the islands, added the lawyer.

The prosecution told the court that it was not insisting on a custodial sentence.

The court adjourned the case to December 1 for sentencing, releasing Mihalev on bail in the interim, against a €3,000 personal guarantee. The court also ordered the man to sign a bail book once a week and observe a curfew.

The defendant is also being represented by lawyer Arthur Azzopardi.