Two charged with €70,000 theft from Iklin

Two men have been charged in connection with a 2015 burglary in which cash, cigarettes and jewellery worth around nearly €70,000 had been stolen.

40 year-old plumber Kevin Tabone from Santa Lucija and 39 year-old Johan Pace from Valletta were arraigned before magistrate Audrey Demicoli this morning, accused of breaking into a garage connected to an Iklin residence in November 2015. The pair were also charged with handling stolen goods. Pace alone faced an additional charge of relapsing.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested bail.

Prosecuting police inspectors Arthur Mercieca and Sandra Zammit objected to the men's release from custody, pointing out that Pace was a repeat offender who was difficult to trace as his residence was not the same as that listed on his ID card. There was a risk that the accused would approach one or more of the many witnesses, Mercieca argued.

But lawyer Giannella Demarco, appearing for Tabone, pointed out that her client had been arrested in December and had spent a considerable amount of time on police bail before his arraignment this morning. During that time, there had been no attempt by Tabone to tamper with evidence, said the lawyer.

“He is an electrician with employees, he cooperated with the investigation and he had in no way participated in this theft.”

Lawyer Joe Giglio, appearing for Pace, echoed his colleague's arguments while also pointing out that Pace had been on bail since November. The prosecution's standard objection to bail, which the lawyer said should be granted as a rule, were baseless he argued.

“These witnesses, who are they? From the questions he was asked in his statement and the evidence obtained through the rule of disclosure, they are eyewitnesses who saw two men wearing hoodies carrying objects out of a residence at 2.00 am and loading them into van. These witnesses are not identifying anyone,” Giglio argued.

No measures had been taken to prevent the accused approaching any witnesses since November. “The man's police conduct is outweighed by the presumption of innocence.”

The court granted the two men bail, ordering both to sign a bail book twice weekly and observe a curfew. Tabone bail was secured by a deposit of €1,000 and a personal guarantee of €3,000, while Pace's was secured by a deposit of €1, 000 and a €4,000 personal guarantee.