Thieves' sentence annulled on a technicality

The appeals court noted a missing formality in the judgement of the first court related to the incorrect citing of the law under which guilt had been found

A court of appeal has annulled a sentence handed to two thieves over a technicality, ordering the case to be retried.

40-year-old Christopher Scerri, known as “Buttuni” or “Gazzetti”, from Gzira and Freddie Delia, also 40, known as "il-Pajpaj" had been found guilty of burglarising a house in Zabbar in 2009, together with other offences.

Scerri and Delia had gained access to the house after allegedly being handed the keys by an ex-boyfriend of the victim’s daughter.

Scerri had been jailed for two years and Delia handed a suspended sentence for their part in the crimes.

But the men had appealed, arguing that the evidence had been misinterpreted and that the court had relied on a dubious witness to reach its conclusions.

It was argued that the evidence showed that Scerri’s car had left the scene of the crime some 45 minutes before the burglary could have taken place. Furthermore CCTV footage was unclear and none of the persons captured on it were recognizable, and in addition to this, fingerprints taken from the scene did not match those of the accused.

All this rendered the conviction unsafe and unsatisfactory argued the men’s lawyer, Franco Debono.

But before the court could delve into the merits of these arguments, judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera noted a missing formality in the judgment. The court of first instance had failed to specify the articles of the law under which guilt was being found. “It has consistently been held in jurisprudence that when the articles of the law cited are incorrect, this brings about the nullity of the appealed sentence,” said the judge.

The court, therefore, annulled the sentence ex officio and declined to examine the arguments further at this stage.

It ordered that that case be sent back to the court of first instance and be heard again    

More in Court & Police