A 19-year old man who was found to be carrying €1,000 in counterfeit banknotes was given a suspended jail term on Tuesday.
The man was arrested after a sharp-minded bartender at the Havana nightclub became suspicious of a €50 note which the teenager, Sasha Agius, handed him when he bought a drink on Sunday night.
A nearby police patrol was alerted and a personal search of the youth yielded €250 in €50 notes that were all fake.
Another search at St Julian's police station turned up more counterfeit banknotes, totalling €1000 in all.
On Tuesday, Agius was accused of possessing and circulating counterfeit money.
The court was told that the police realized that the banknotes were false because they bore the same serial number and the feel of the paper money aroused suspicion, explained prosecuting Inspector Keith Xerri.
The notes were presented in evidence.
There were six €50 notes with one serial number and another eight with a different serial number, along with some other cash.
The accused registered an admission.
When making submissions on punishment the prosecution pointed out that the teenager had an untainted conduct sheet and had fully cooperated.
Defence lawyer Josette Sultana made further reference to the accused’s age and his cooperation with the police. She argued that a suspended jail term rather than effective imprisonment would be appropriate in the circumstances.
“Hopefully he’ll learn his lesson and not return to court,” said the lawyer.
Magistrate Leonard Caruana handed the accused a 2-year jail sentence suspended for four years and ordered that the counterfeit currency be handed to the Central Bank in terms of law.
The crime carried a maximum punishment of nine years, the magistrate pointed out to the young man.
“But since this is your first time, the court is giving you the minimum punishment,” he said. the magistrate.
Just then, the accused’s mother seated at the back of the courtroom, stood up, indicating her wish to address the court.
“Could you please order him to go to work?” he asked the woma.
The law did not permit such an order, explained the magistrate.
“Too bad,” remarked the mother, as her son turned round glaring at her.
“Let me not see you again here. The court is trusting you. Don’t betray that trust,” the magistrate warned the youth.