Man charged in connection with organised crime group behind string of car thefts

Accused charged in connection with ongoing investigation into organised crime group that was stealing cars, dismantling them and selling the parts

Car parts (File photo)
Car parts (File photo)

A 28-year-old man from St. Paul’s Bay has been charged in connection with an ongoing investigation into an organised crime group that was stealing cars, dismantling them and selling the parts.

The Bulgarian defendant, whose name was banned from publication due to ongoing police investigations, was charged with aggravated theft and handling stolen goods. He pleaded not guilty.

He is the second person to be arraigned as a result of the investigation into thefts of cars that were subsequently taken to a garage in the tal-Ħandaq area of Qormi and taken apart.

Earlier this month, another Bulgarian national was charged with a similar offence and pleaded guilty. He is expected to be sentenced on Friday.

The prosecution told magistrate Elaine Rizzo that on November 5, the police had been investigating the theft of a car from Marsa, and had caught two men taking apart the stolen vehicle in Ħandaq. Two men were arrested at the scene. Today’s defendant had been released on police bail.

The defendant had been spotted by police while driving a stolen motorcycle in Qawra and arrested.

Lawyer Martin Farrugia, defence counsel, told the court that negotiations in the hope of reaching a plea-bargaining agreement were currently ongoing.

Farrugia requested bail for his client, which was strenuously objected to by the prosecution, which cited the risk of tampering with evidence and that of the defendant absconding.

He emphasised the defendant’s cooperation with the police and his ties to the Maltese islands, where the Bulgarian has resided for the past seven years and where his son also lived.

The court denied the request for bail due to the risk of tampering with evidence and the early stage of the proceedings.

Inspectors Jeffrey Scicluna, Sean Pawney and Stephen Gulia prosecuted, assisted by lawyer Rebecca Spiteri from the Office of the Attorney General.