11th October 2022, 13:58
Published by GBC News
A money laundering case at the Supreme Court has ended earlier than expected after one defendant pleaded guilty to one of the three charges he was accused of.
The other defendant, his daughter, was found not guilty after the Crown offered no evidence.
The case relates to a yacht allegedly worth £200,000, seized in Gibraltar in 2020.
69-year-old John Spiro Azzopardi and his 41-year-old daughter Kyra had been accused of being in possession of the 11.5 metre luxury vessel ‘Sunrays’, whilst knowing it was criminal property, as well as concealing the identity of its true owner.
The RGP claimed at the time of their arrests that the motor yacht, a cabin cruiser, really belonged to a man wanted by police for money laundering offences linked to drug trafficking.
The pair were also accused of depositing over £140,000 between them into local bank accounts - money the Crown said they knew was from the proceeds of criminal activity.
On Monday, the jury was sworn in and told the trial would last the week. However on Tuesday morning, when the jurors arrived at court they were told the trial would not proceed.
It followed a guilty plea from John Azzopardi to count two on the indictment - concealing the identity of the owner of the yacht, whilst knowing it to be criminal property. Puisne Judge Liam Yeats directed the jury to find the defendant guilty as charged.
Unusually, the Crown then offered no further evidence, leaving the judge to direct the jury to return not guilty verdicts on the remaining counts.
This left Kyra Azzopardi free to go.
Her father will be sentenced next month, and will likely receive a community service order. His bail continues until then.
The Crown will be applying to forfeit the vessel.
Chris Finch appeared for John Azzopardi and Chris Miles appeared for Kyra Azzopardi, while the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christian Rocca, and James Lenane appeared for the Crown.