The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

Young man who almost ran over police officer given probation

Friday, 31 May 2019, 15:18 Last update: about 24 days ago

A court has found a young man guilty of almost running over a policeman in a stolen car and sentenced him to probation in a judgement condemning the car owner for leaving it unlocked.

The case dates back to October, when the young man whose name is subject to a ban on publication because he was a minor, stole a silver convertible Nissan March from Msida. Police officers had testified that they had spotted the stolen car while on patrol. They had stopped the driver and his female passenger.

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The car had been stationary when first seen by the police and had been followed and pulled over. But when the police left their vehicle, the driver had unsuccessfully tried to run an officer over, before leading them on a car chase around Kirkop.

The chase ended when the accused had turned to go up a one-way street and found himself staring at a van coming in the opposite direction.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud heard how the accused’s girlfriend had told the police that the accused had told her that he had found an abandoned vehicle and asked her to ride with him.

The court said it had no hesitation in believing the prosecution’s version of events, saying it was clear that the youth was trying to impress his girlfriend.

But it also had harsh words for the car’s owner for committing the contravention of leaving his car unlocked. “The court condemns the irresponsible actions of the parte civile who left his car unlocked for a number of hours,” said the magistrate.

Examining the doctrinal and jurisprudential background of the charges at great length, the court found the youth guilty of theft aggravated by value and nature of the thing stolen, as well as the charge of disobeying a lawful order and attempted grievous injury.

The law gives great importance to the role of the offender’s age in punishment, said the court, pointing out that there was an established classification of attenuated punishments depending on the age of the offender.

The magistrate defiantly said that the court was not there to satisfy the baying mob which was out for retribution. He noted that the accused had made “enormous progress” in his behaviour after being remanded in custody. After being granted bail he had dedicated himself to his work and studies and this had impressed his probation officer. All drug tests were negative.

For this reason, after suspending his driving licence for a year, it handed the youth a three - year probation order, ordering that he be placed under the surveillance of a probation officer who would report on the youth’s progress every six months.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.

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