Clerical error gets man off untaxed fuel charge

Man had been charged after Malta Resources Authority inspector found more than 1,000 litres of gasoil with unpaid duty

The owner of an industrial garage has been cleared of being in possession of untaxed fuel thanks to a mistake in his writ of summons.

George Pace, 54, from Hamrun, had been charged after Malta Resources Authority sent officials to inspect his garage in Paola. The inspector discovered some 1,050 litres of gasoil, the duty on which had not been paid.

Experts valued the fuel at €762.24 and the unpaid customs duty amounted to €401.52. €209.48 in VAT was also due.

However, during the course of proceedings it emerged that the writ of summons indicated the year of the inspection as 2011, when it had, in fact taken place in 2010. Magistrate Ian Farrugia noted that there had been no request for the crrection of the error.  The court pointed out that it was bound by the charges as laid out in the writ of summons and the date specified. As there was no evidence that the undeclared fuel was in the accused's possession on  the date specified in the summons, the court had no choice but to acquit the man.

Lawyer Mark Busuttil was defence counsel to Pace.

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