A man was spared jail over a series of tool thefts he committed more than seven years ago after the court heard about the effort he is making to turn his life around. 

Keith Pace, now 42, registered an admission to the thefts which took place in 2015, at a time when he was struggling with a drug problem and was also facing relationship troubles.

The first theft, reported in June that year, took place at a Marsa showroom where a father and son were carrying out construction works. 

A door was forced open and two generators, a driller and a ladder, worth some €1,500, were reported missing. 

A few days later, a company involved in environmental projects reported that a number of hedgers, grass cutters and a chainsaw, worth over €4,000, had been stolen from its store at Floriana.

Shortly after, a Toyota parked on a Marsa street sparked police investigations.

Inside that vehicle, police officers could make out a number of tools, barely hidden beneath a large beach towel.

Police sought information about the owner of the car and neighbours pointed them in the direction of Pace, who lived right opposite the spot where the car was parked. 

When Pace was summoned to the police headquarters for questioning and was told that he was suspected of theft, he objected to being arraigned under arrest, banging his head against a glass door when he was about to be escorted to the lockup. 

Eventually, he was charged over both thefts and a number of other offences, including damage to third-party property, escaping from police custody, reckless and dangerous driving, as well as breaching four bail decrees. 

He was also charged with relapsing. 

In 2018, Pace was placed under a three-year probation and treatment order. 

The Attorney General appealed that judgment and, in 2019, the court of appeal sent the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for Pace to be placed in the position he had been in before the first judgment was delivered. 

That court heard the testimony of a priest who said that Pace had registered great, positive steps in life and was working within a religious community. 

The probation officer who was closely following Pace’s progress also confirmed the man was now leading a stable life. 

When delivering judgment, the court, presided over by Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, observed that since 2000, Pace had landed fines, probation orders and also effective jail time. 

Having had a taste of prison, the accused knew what it meant to be locked up. 

The testimonies given before this court confirmed that Pace was truly trying to turn over a new leaf.

An OASI representative also confirmed that the accused had been in contact since 2018, had successfully completed rehabilitation, was always cooperative, and kept in touch up to the present date. 

Pace had put in every effort and marked constant progress.

The court did not wish to block that progress. 

It would be in the accused’s best interest to be placed under probation for the maximum three-year term, so that he could continue to be followed by his probation officer. 

The court placed him under a personal obligation not to molest his former girlfriend. 

Finally, the court ordered forfeiture of €16,000 which represented the total bail bonds under the various decrees he had breached, as well as €1,322.97 in court expert expenses. 

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb were defence counsel. 

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