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Mosta Couple Found Guilty Of Gambling Away €35,000 Of Cancer-Battling Son’s Fundraised Money

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A Maltese couple that raised thousands in donated funds for their cancer-stricken child have been found guilty of defrauding their own son as well as several others by wasting the donations on gambling.

Mosta residents Ryan Debattista, 31, and Nicole Bezzina, 27 admitted in court that they used their son Kane to raise a significant sum of money, as well as money laundering. Debattista was also charged with accepting stolen items and breaching his probation in front of Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, TVM reported.

In total, the couple had raised around €35,000 that was squandered on gambling.

Frendo Dimech chastised the couple, saying they had exploited society’s generosity and altruism.

“Instead of appreciating these noble gestures, the accused, without any shame and after deceiving everyone, squandered the donated public funds in order to finance their gambling, something which ultimately only resulted in losses,” she said.

In court, they noted that Puttinu Cares’ representatives said that Kane had been cured of cancer and his parents had taken care of him in a proper manner, giving him all the treatment he needed, which led to him being cured and making progress.

The court told the couple that they are now expected to exercise great caution in raising their child, with a supervision order to be imposed on them.

The court also noted that Debattista’s police conduct sheet was “tarnished and colourful” whereas the mother’s was untouched.

The couple were sentenced to three years probation, with the father fined €30,000 and the mother fined €20,000.

A sum of €35,000 as well as the couple’s property were confiscated, and they were banned from going anywhere near gambling or betting shops, as well as horse-racing events, and they cannot partake in any online gambling.

The couple were given a three-year treatment order to battle their gambling addiction.

Kane Debattista had been presented to the public as a young Floriana FC fan who captured the hearts of his favourite football club, with two rival teams even coming together under the hashtag #UniteForKane

At the time, he was suffering from a tumor in his kidneys and liver, before undergoing four operations abroad.

Have you ever seen anything like this in Malta?

READ NEXT: 'Minister Should Now Resign': Maltese Ambulance Company Owner Speaks Out After Prison Boss' Gun Conviction

Johnathan is Editor-in-Chief of Lovin Malta, and an award-winning Maltese journalist interested in social justice, politics, minority issues, music and food. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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