The young driver involved in the crash that cost the life of a Dutch pedestrian on the St Julian’s sea front, has had his house arrest replaced by a curfew.
The decision was taken by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, presiding over the Criminal Court following an application filed by the Attorney General a day after Michael Caruana Turner, the 20-year old driver, had been granted bail but under house arrest. The incident happened on July 6.
The AG argued for the revocation of bail, stressing that the first court ought to either have granted bail under normal conditions or else withheld the request, remanding the man in custody.
The presumption of innocence lay at the very heart of the notion of bail which is intended to ensure the continued and regular presence of the charged person at the ongoing proceedings, the court explained.
“On the issue of bail, this court considers the principle of personal freedom to be the rule, whilst arrest or detention is to be the exception, especially when an involuntary offence is involved,” the court said.
As for the notion of house arrest, the court observed that this was not expressly provided for under Maltese law.
House arrest appeared to have evolved as an extension of normal curfew conditions whereby the person was barred from leaving his home except under court authorisation or for specific reasons listed in the bail decree, Judge Scerri Herrera continued.
Although house arrest doubtlessly offered better conditions than any spell behind bars, it was arrest nonetheless and any period thus spent confined to one’s home could never be deducted from any eventual term of imprisonment, the court declared.
In this case, once the first court had deemed it fit to grant bail, it had perceived none of the risks envisaged by law. Therefore, there “was no cause to impose such a condition as house arrest” the court concluded. It replaced the condition with the faculty to leave home between 8am and 8pm.
All other bail conditions remained unchanged.
Lawyer Joseph Giglio was defence counsel.
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