A three-year jail term, handed down to a woman who admitted to the misappropriation of over €3,000, has been declared null because the court failed to record that it asked the accused to reconsider her admission, as required by law.
In January last year, Annabelle Camilleri had been jailed for three years after she admitted to misappropriation of the money when she failed to pay for a rental car to the detriment of James Marshall from MCabs Limited on and before October 2017.
She also admitted to committing the crime during the operative time of a suspended jail term and relapsing. Camilleri had initially pleaded not guilty, then changed her plea to a guilty one during the compilation of evidence.
During the case, it emerged that Camilleri had failed to pay Marshall for the rental of a Peugeot 207 and had a pending bill of €3,617 that included €210 in fines and €480 to cover damages. Marshall had forgiven her after her relatives paid him.
After being jailed, Camilleri filed an appeal, through her lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri. The appeal centred on a legal technicality.
According to the law, when a person files a guilty plea, the magistrate has to explain the repercussions of the plea and allow some time for the accused to reconsider.
Judge Aaron Bugeja, in the Appeal Court, ruled that while in practice the first court probably verbally asked Camilleri to reconsider her plea, this had not been recorded in the minutes of the case.
As a result, he could not base his decision on a probability.
For this reason, he annulled the original judgment and sent the case back to the first court.