A man who set a van on fire after he discovered that his wife was cheating on him with its owner has been handed a suspended sentence.

The accused, whose name was banned under court order when arraigned in March, has reimbursed the van owner for the damage caused and received his forgiveness. 

He was targeted as the arson suspect after his distinctive vehicle was spotted at the scene of the crime.

The incident happened on January 13 when an Isuzu model caught fire on a Birkirkara street. 

The suspected arsonist later told police that his wife had been cheating on him with the van owner and that he had decided to take matters into his own hands. 

Although he originally pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment in March, the accused subsequently changed his plea and registered an admission, confirming even after being warned by the court about the serious consequences he could face. 

When delivering judgment the court, presided over by magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia, observed that the accused had six convictions on his criminal record, all linked with driving offences and another concerning a case of animal cruelty. 

The court also noted that the accused and the victim had settled issues between them and that he had forgiven the accused.

However, a third party whose vehicle was also damaged in the blaze, had been reimbursed by the insurance company but then had to fork out money to pay for the excess on his insurance policy and as well as to cover car rental expenses. 

A probation officer who monitored the accused and prepared a report on the outcome, suggested that he was to keep up his efforts at work.

Moreover, the man and his wife were to attend family therapy sessions, advised the officer, recommending a suspended sentence as adequate punishment given the circumstances of the case.

In light of such considerations, the court condemned the accused to a two-year jail term suspended for four years.

The court also placed him under a three-year restraining order and ordered him to reimburse the third party the outstanding balance which amounted to €555.

Inspectors Jeffrey Scicluna and Mario Xiberras prosecuted. Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb were defence counsel.Lawyer Lennox Vella appeared parte civile.

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