Reduction in punishment for receiver of stolen goods after appeal by AG

The man had cooperated had admitted to the charges immediately and helped the police with subsequent investigations

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

An appeal by the Office of the Attorney General has unexpectedly led to a reduction in punishment for a man who received a stolen fork-lifter.

Adolph Baldacchino had been accused of having, in May 2014, received a stolen fork-lifter, causing damage to it and relapsing. Baldacchino had admitted and was handed a sentence of one year’s imprisonment, suspended for two years in March 2015.

But the Office of the Attorney General had filed an appeal, pointing out that the punishment was not in line with the law. The minimum sentence in this case was 21 months and this could not be suspended because the man was a recidivist, it was argued.

Madame Justice Edwina Grima heard Baldacchino’s lawyers argue that the man had entered into a plea bargain with the prosecution and had admitted at the first opportunity, noting that this should temper the man’s punishment. It was pointed out that the accused was also assisting the police in a number of investigations and that the stolen forklift had been returned to its owner.

The Court of Criminal Appeal decided to uphold the appeal by confirming the part of the sentence finding Baldacchino guilty and reforming the punishment.

The judge said that it was immediately evident that the AG was right. As the value of the fork-lifter exceeded €2,329.37, there was no doubt that the minimum punishment for the crime of receiving that stolen goods was 13 months’ imprisonment. The minimum went up to 18 months when considering aggravations.

“Therefore there can be no doubt that when the first court handed down punishment of one-year imprisonment this was not within the parameters set out by law,” said the court. In addition, the fact that he was a recidivist meant that this prison sentence could not legally be suspended.

Baldacchino had argued that he had admitted to the charges only after agreeing with the prosecution that it wouldn’t push for imprisonment.

The court said it could not take cognisance of an illegal plea bargain, but on the other hand noted that the man had made an early admission that merited a reduction in punishment.

It also took into account the fact that the defendant’s testimony was required for the prosecution of third parties and that he had helped the police on a number of occasions.

The court therefore upheld the AG’s appeal, reforming the sentence by confirming the finding of guilt but changing the punishment to a three-year conditional discharge.

Lawyers Ishmael Psaila and David Camilleri appeared for Baldacchino.

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