Thief handed suspended sentence over string of offences

Court hears how 19-year-old man committed eight offences in the space of one month

Ellul was charged of committing a number of thefts at Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia
Ellul was charged of committing a number of thefts at Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia

A 30-year-old man charged with four counts of theft, two counts of forgery, of handling stolen property, and of attempting to defraud a cheque has been handed a 14 month jail term suspended for four years.

Michael Ellul, 30 of Zabbar, who at the time of the charges was 19 years old, stood accused of committing the eight charges in just under a month.

Ellul stood charged of stealing two bags from Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia. In the first incident dated on July 14, 2003, the accused was charged with stealing a bag containing a set of keys, a mobile phone, two wallets, optical glasses, jewellery, a wrist watch, and a silver bracelet. A day later, Ellul struck again and stole a bag containing towels and petty cash.

The court heard how his luck had ran out, as pedestrians had reported the accused and his partner in crime –Antoine Spiteri – to two patrolling officers. They were then apprehended and searched by the police officers.

The police also searched the van of Antoine Spiteri, where they discovered two Identity cards and a cheque book belonging to Ivan and Charmaine Busuttil. It later transpired that Charmaine Busuttil had reported to police that a bag containing a cheque book, cash, and a mobile phone was stolen from, inside her car in Zabbar.

Ellul then filled the cheque with the sum of LM77 and forged the signature of Charmaine Busuttil. He also addressed the cheque to a certain Client Buttigieg – one of the victims who the accused stole the ID card from.

Despite being found in possession of the stolen cheque book, the accused was however acquitted of the thefts after the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was him who had stolen the bags.

He however was found guilty of handling stolen property and of forging the signature of Charmaine Busuttil.

In handing down her decree, Magistrate Marseann Farrugia noted that at the time of the offence, the accused had a clean criminal record, but during the compiliation of evidence against him, the accused was convicted of three other thefts.

Michael Ellul was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for four year.

Dr Mark Busuttil represented the accused while Inspector Priscilla Caruana prosecuted.