Warden agency received 700 complaints about dangerous truck driver

Truck driver Marius Camilleri had another charge added to the 11 already filed against him by the police, as the court continued to hear the case against him • Camilleri receives stern rebuke from magistrate after he tries to interrupt court proceedings

Truck driver accused of dangerous driving is remanded in custody
Truck driver accused of dangerous driving is remanded in custody

A truck driver's dangerous driving led to 700 Facebook complaints a representative of the local enforcement agency (LESA) told a court this morning.

The representative was testifying in the case against Marius Camilleri, who is faced with 11 charges, including dangerous driving, driving without a license and speeding.

However, when the case continued this morning, police inspector Sergio Pisani added a new charge to the list. Camilleri was accused of a hit and run incident while he was riding a motorcycle.

Pisani told Magistrate Grazio Mercieca that on 25 November, the police had received a number of reports about a vehicle being driven recklessly and dangerously in the Mosta and Naxxar area.

Police had found it hard to trace the driver and officers observing his official residence saw no movement in or out.

On 30 November, Pisani was informed that the accused had been stopped by wardens and a police sergeant was dispatched to assist.

The truck had a road licence belonging to a motorcycle and had not been licensed for two years, he said.

The accused was under “at least two” suspended sentences, the inspector added, explaining that he was waiting for further copies of judgments from the court archives.

Defence counsel lawyer Leslie Cuschieri argued that a day before the incident the accused had received a letter from the police at his address. “So much for being untraceable,” said the lawyer. The inspector retorted that no reply had been received.

The accused leapt to his feet and attempted to interrupt, earning himself a stern rebuke from the magistrate. “You don’t joke around with this court. You don’t know what I’m like. I will jail you,” warned the magistrate, as Camilleri sat down again.

A Transport Malta representative confirmed on oath that the truck in question had been registered to the accused since 2008 and its license had lapsed in January 2016. Camilleri’s driving licencs was valid for commercial vehicles, not for motorcycles she said.

The victim of the hit and run incident also testified. He had been driving in Mdina road when a motorcycle hit him and drove off. He took down the details of the fleeing bike and contacted the police.

The driver had not been reimbursed for the damages he had suffered, explaining that he had tried to get his insurance involved but the other party had not opened a claim and the insurer was unable to trace the individual, despite him taking down the number plate.

A representative of Citadel Insurance testified that the truck had been covered under a commercial policy, the Kimco motorcycle was insured in the accused’s name. There were no records of the accused’s bike license in the company’s possession, said the witness.

Also testifying before Magistrate Mercieca this morning was a traffic police sergeant who recounted how wardens had stopped a truck whose driver was wanted.

Camilleri had refused to come out of the truck when asked by police, who could not tow the vehicle due to its heavy load. Eventually a compromise was reached whereby the accused would drive the truck to the Transport Malta impound yard. He was then placed under arrest, whilst shouting that he was going to start blocking roundabouts with his truck whilst eating his lunch.

A traffic warden recognised the vehicle, a white Astra truck, and gave chase on a motorcycle, eventually stopping the vehicle. The warden had asked for a copy of the license and insurance but the driver had replied that he couldn’t comply because he was in pain and didn’t have a copy on his person, later swearing at the warden. “He said he had an appointment with the Police Commissioner.”

The regional manager of LESA,  the organisation which handles traffic contraventions, took the witness stand to say that he had been tagged on Facebook in a video of a truck overtaking a number of cars on a continuous white line at high speed. At least 700 complaints and eyewitness accounts were received on a popular local Facebook page, he said. “They only stopped when the site shut down the thread.”

Cuschieri once again requested bail, saying his client’s charges had been inflated “for the media.” None of the wardens said he was driving dangerously, the lawyer said.

He also pointed out that the original charges stated the offences had taken place on 30 November but had been later amended to include the weeks and months before. Cuschieri also asked that the truck’s load of gravel be released. The court authorised the man to unload the consignment under police escort, but refused bail, citing a risk that the accused may tamper with evidence as witnesses were yet to testify.

The accused, who has nearly 40 convictions for serious crimes spanning 23 years but who has never been jailed, reacted with anger. Camilleri slammed the courtroom door as he was led out following an emotional embrace with his wife, who was present for the proceedings.

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