Jailed arsonist's case re-heard due to technicality

A man who had been jailed for arson, but whose case had to be re-heard, because of a technicality, has pleaded not guilty to updated charges

A video of the attack was circulated on social media
A video of the attack was circulated on social media

A man who had been jailed for arson, but whose case had to be re-heard, because of a technicality, has pleaded not guilty to updated charges this morning.

Felice Delia, 54, from Marsascala had been sentenced to four years in prison last December, after he doused a woman and her car with petrol, setting the car alight and destroying it, ostensibly in an argument over parking.

Delia had appealed on a technicality and after finding merit in the appeal, Judge Aaron Bugeja had remitted the case back to the courts of Magistrates to be heard again before a different magistrate.

This morning, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard the victim and family members of hers testify to the terror they experienced when Delia had first doused the car with petrol and set it alight and then, together with his two sons, chased the woman and doused her with petrol and then broke into her father’s house.

“He threatened to burn us alive,” said the father in court today. Asked by parte civile lawyer Rachel Tua, he said the man had sometimes told him to move the car and he would comply, but that the room in front of which the car was parked was not a garage.

The woman said that she had been washing the plates after a meal when she heard her children screaming outside. She rushed out of the house and found Felice and his sone throwing petrol at her car. She had never spoken to the accused in her life, she said. “There was no relationship at all.”

“As I moved near him to tell him that I was going to move my car, he set a paper on fire and threw it at the petrol-soaked car.” She ran away with the two men chasing after her. One of them hit her in the face twice with a spiked knuckleduster, she said. “Felice was telling me ‘I’ll burn you alive I’ll burn you alive.’ ”

Meanwhile, one of Delia’s sons was trying to break down the door to the house.  

“I froze. I couldn’t move with the shock until a neighbour told me to go to the police station and I went.”

Her car was a total loss, she said.

“I had no relationship with this person, not good, not bad. I know he has a couple of rooms where he keeps dogs and cockerels in front of where I parked.”

“I have paranoia now. If people follow me, I get nervous. I get panic attacks.”

Her daughter had filmed the entire incident on her mobile phone from the parents’ balcony. “One of Felice’s sons was telling us to come down and fight,” she recalled. After setting the car on fire, they had run after her mother, throwing petrol at her and had beaten her.

The witness had thrown the first thing at hand – her mobile phone- at the assailant, hitting the mother by mistake. “I thought he was going to kill her…he was threatening to kill us. I threw a pot at him and hit him and my mother escaped.”

Prosecuting inspector Eman Hayman told the court that the man and his children had admitted guilt immediately and cooperated with the police. The police and RIU units arriving at the scene had found the argument to be still ongoing and had arrested them immediately. The problems between the parties were known to the police, but police reports about the parking dispute had been increasing in frequency in the weeks before the attack, Hayman said. The family, however, claim not to have made any police reports.

Delia’s lawyer Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici asked for bail at this juncture, pointing out that the man had been in custody for six months already and that all civilian witnesses had testified.

The court said it would decide on bail during the next sitting, to be held next Thursday.

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