Gozitan ordered to return vintage Canada Dry truck to its rightful owner
A Gozitan who spent €8,000 on the restoration of a vintage truck was made to return it to its original owners after a court ruled that he had no legal claim over the vehicle.
The case revolved around an old Bedford truck that once belonged to Angelo Grech, who was known in Gozo as ‘talCanada Dry.’ Mr Grech was, in fact, the sole deliveryman of the popular fizzy drink.
The vehicle, bearing the Canada Dry logo, was garaged when Mr Grech and his wife moved to the United States in 1982.
In 2008, the third party owners of the garage wanted to clear out the premises and asked Carmel Xuereb to tow the truck away and dispose of it as he pleased. Mr Xuereb said the truck had been badly damaged by the garage’s partly collapsed roof. Its wooden cabin was cracked and a door had gone missing. He told Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri that he had spent many hours and around €8,000 to restore the vehicle back to its former glory.
The widow of Angelo Grech, who still lives in New York, said her husband’s truck had been garaged in the same property since 1982. In 2005, the owners of the garage issued an eviction order. Mr Grech was diagnosed with cancer a short time later and he lost interest in the case.
Mrs Grech said she had forgotten all about the truck until her son-in-law told her in 2011 that the restored truck was being advertised for sale on eBay for the price of £9,000. The seller declared that he did not have the logbook since the former owner was dead.
Magistrate Vella Cuschieri said there was no doubt that the Grechs had abandoned the truck for several years and let it fall into disrepair but there was nothing to show that they had renounced ownership of the truck.
The court said Mr Xuereb must have known that the truck was still registered in the late Mr Grech’s name – he had even stated on eBay that the transfer of the vehicle could not be carried out for the reason that the owner was dead. It had also emerged that Mr Xuereb had approached Mrs Grech’s daughter and asked her to sign for the transfer of the vehicle but she had refused.
The magistrate also noted that this was the only truck of its kind in Gozo and many knew Mr Grech by his ‘Tal-Canada Dry’ nickname so Mr Xuereb must have known that Mr Grech was the owner.
The court added that it was not convinced by Mr Xuereb’s claims that he had purchased the truck from a scrapyard.
It found that Mr Xuereb had acted in bad faith and had no right of ownership and ordered him to return the vehicle to Mrs Grech without expecting any reimbursement for the money spent on restoration.