Former pimp gets probation after turning his life around

The progress made by the man resulted in Caritas describing him to the court as a ‘role model to others struggling with addiction’

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A man has been convicted of living off the earnings of his girlfriend who worked as a prostitute, but was spared prison after turning his life around.

The man in his 20s had originally been prosecuted as one of three accused, including his girlfriend and another man, who were believed to be involved in a series of violent muggings in which the victims were first approached by the woman.

He had denied a number of charges which included involvement in a number of violent thefts, holding the victims at knifepoint, violently forcing his girlfriend into prostitution and living off the earnings, running a brothel, carrying an unlicensed weapon and doing all this during the operative period of two earlier suspended sentences.

The court had heard one alleged mugging victim recall how one evening in August 2013, he had been driving through Ta’ Xbiex when a woman had approached his vehicle, opened the door and climbed inside, telling him to drive on.

She had refused to leave the car when asked to do so by the driver and instead demanded €20. But as soon as the driver had handed over the money, two men had appeared out of nowhere, snatching the man’s car key and telling him that they had been looking for the girl for three days, threatening to report him to the police because the girl was underage.

But the witness had called the men’s bluff and turned the tables on the attackers, pulling out his phone and calling the police himself. The thieving trio had immediately handed him back the keys, before snatching the €20 note and escaping on foot.

The witness later failed to identify his two male aggressors when testifying in court, recognizing only the woman.

The man’s former girlfriend had later retracted her earlier claim of having been forced into prostitution, insisting to the court that she had worked as a prostitute out of her own free will instead, even before her three-month relationship with the accused.

She also denied that he had been violent towards her or had cut off her hair with a knife as had been alleged. The couple had used her earnings to pay for day to day expenses, she said.

The woman had also denied the thefts, saying that she wanted to withdraw her complaint against the man who, also happened to be the father of her two children.

The man’s defence team had asked the court to order the drawing up of a Social Enquiry Report on the accused’s condition.

The reporting probation officer had later informed the court that at the time of the offencein 2013, the accused had been struggling to overcome his drug addiction, showed no drive to better his condition, had an unstable relationship with his girlfriend and led an idle life.

But after some setbacks, the following year, the accused had finally entered and successfully completed a residential drug rehabilitation programme. His outlook on life had changed for the better and he was testing clean of drugs as well as being in regular employment.

In a letter from Caritas to the Court, it was noted that the man had made notable progress, having integrated well with his peers and describing him as “a role model to others struggling with their addiction”.

The court, presided over by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, remarked that the prosecution had been inconsistent in its handling of the case, having failed to establish the date of the alleged altercation at Ta’ Xbiex.

It had also failed to summon the other two co-accused to testify and had not succeeded in proving the existence of the brothel or that the accused had used violence to compel his girlfriend.

The only clear piece of evidence, noted the court, was a knife found in the accused’s car which he had explained he kept there for self-defence purposes.

The court found the man guilty of the weapons charge, the charge of living off the earnings of prostitution and breaching the two suspended sentences, acquitting him of the rest of the charges against him.

He was placed under a three-year Probation Order, with his earlier suspended sentences being made to start afresh.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.