A married couple, acquitted in November of having allegedly defrauded a 90-year old aunt, had their acquittal confirmed on appeal.
John and Antonia Camilleri had been targeted by fraud and misappropriation charges dating back to 2010. Their elderly relative had filed a police complaint claiming that her niece had convinced her to deposit her savings at the bank, telling the 90-year old lady that it was not safe to keep such sums of money at home.
The old lady subsequently alleged that she had entrusted the accused with €30,000 to be deposited into her account. However, the money was not deposited, she claimed.
When visiting the bank the aunt discovered that Mr Camilleri had allegedly transferred some €7,000 from her account into his own.
During criminal proceedings before the Magistrates’ Court, the accused had rebutted the allegations, insisting that the €7,000 had been donated to them by their aunt together with some immovable property, as an expression of gratitude for the care they had shown towards their elderly relatives.
The couple were cleared of all criminal liability by the Magistrates’ Court in November, prompting an appeal by the Attorney General.
The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, agreed with the conclusions of the first court which had undertaken a detailed analysis of the evidence put forward.
The court observed that proof as to the date of when the money was transferred or deposited at the bank was lacking.
Nor was it proved that the alleged victim had parted with her money with the intent of getting it back, the Court said, noting further that two notaries had testified that the lady was of sound mind when transferring her property, knowing fully well that it was a donation.
The fact that the beneficiary had undertaken preparations for the deed did not mean that he had acted without the consent of the donor, the court said.
The prosecuting inspector had also testified under cross-examination that the pensioner did not check her bank statements but simply “put them away.”
The court noted that the old lady had visited the notary in an attempt to cancel the donation.
The allegations were likely another attempt “to try to correct what she had originally intended to do, after changing her mind, for whatever reason,” the Court observed, thus finding no cause to vary the discretion of the first court and throwing out the appeal.
Lawyer Joseph Giglio assisted the couple.