The Malta Independent 2 June 2023, Friday
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Suspended sentence converted into effective jail term for woman

Tuesday, 7 March 2023, 11:31 Last update: about 4 months ago

A court of appeal converted a suspended sentence for a woman who gambled over €200,000 while claiming social benefits and not declaring income from fortune telling into an effective jail term.

The woman, whose name cannot be published by court order, was investigated by the police after the police received information about her gambling sprees at casinos. The woman was seen to be gambling away substantial sums of money, far beyond the income she was declared to the Inland Revenue Department.


She had been last registered as an employee in 2008, but had been fired from that job after allegedly stealing cheques at the workplace. That allegation led to separate criminal proceedings.

In 2009, the woman set up a business as a fortune teller while registering as ‘sole trader’ with the VAT department. At the time she was living in government accommodation and applied for social benefits.

She received a total of €35,123.30 in 2008, 2009, 2012 and between 2014 and 2021.

Police investigations showed that she had gambled some €203,604 between 2009 and 2020, with payments being mostly in cash.

After setting up her fortune-telling business in 2018, she failed to declare income, thus defrauding public coffers.

The woman was subsequently charged with misappropriation, fraud and money laundering as well as breaching various court sentences and relapsing.

She was gound guilty of the charges in 2020 and was given a 2-year jail term suspended for four years as well as a fine of €28,000.

The Attorney General appealed that decision on various grounds which were partly upheld, thus resulting in an increase in punishment.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima, found the accused guilty of breaching previous sentences and also of recidivism.

The court confirmed the conviction, and converted the suspended sentence into an effective jail-term.

The court also added a further one-and-a-half-year term for separate charges over which the accused had been conditionally discharged in 2015.

In all, the woman was given a three-and-a-half jail term, minus the term she spent in preventive custody.


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