Malta
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Relapsing youth banned from driving

A young driver at the wheel of a suspicious-looking vehicle landed on the wrong side of the law after being caught driving without a licence and beyond court curfew hours while also being in possession of two grams of cocaine.

Ransdon Debono, a 19-year-old Qormi resident, was escorted back to court on Wednesday afternoon almost one year to date since he had been granted bail by the Criminal Court over separate charges. 

His latest brush with the law happened on Monday evening when he was spotted by police at around 10.30pm, driving an Opel model along Triq il-Xemxija in Marsa. 

The sight of that vehicle roused suspicion. 

When officers checked, they soon realised that the car’s number plates belonged to another vehicle. 

The driver was stopped and a police search ensued. 

It turned out that the car’s registration plates belonged to a BMW, while the licence disc belonged to a Daihatsu. 

A search inside the Opel yielded five sachets of a suspicious substance which later was confirmed to be 1.99 grams of cocaine. 

Moreover, the driver had no driving licence, was out on bail, and should have been at home by 9pm, explained prosecuting Inspector Roderick Agius. 

Debono was charged with breaching two separate bail decrees, driving without a licence and the necessary insurance cover, tampering with the car’s number plates, fixing plates belonging to another vehicle, unlawful possession of cocaine as well as relapsing. 

After consulting his lawyers, Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb, the accused registered an admission. 

His lawyers requested a pre-sentencing report and that request was upheld by the court together with another request for bail. 

The prosecution exhibited the seized drug as well as a gold ring found inside the Opel.

Prosecuting Inspector James Mallia informed the court that investigations were still ongoing to determine ownership of the vehicle. 

“You can drive no type of vehicle, be it a car or a motorcycle,” warned the Magistrate, including that order as one of the conditions for bail. 

“You must prove yourself trustworthy before this court which will judge you,” added defence lawyer Franco Debono.

Bail was granted under condition of not approaching any of the prosecution witnesses, not driving any vehicle at all, signing the bail book daily, not leaving home between 11pm and 7am, paying a deposit of €1,000, and against a personal guarantee of €10,000. 

As the hearing came to an end, the court addressed the youth’s father who was following the hearing, advising him to monitor his son, even though he was an adult. 

The case was deferred for the drawing up of the pre-sentencing report. 

Inspectors Roderick Agius and James Mallia prosecuted. Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb were defence counsel.