Goz­i­tan or­dered to re­turn vin­tage Canada Dry truck to its right­ful owner

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

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.

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