Qormi beggar apologises for attacking woman, resisting police

The beggar, who lives on the street, pleaded guilty and has been conditionally discharged

A 22 year old man has been conditionally discharged on charges of resisting a police officer and a woman who stopped him from begging in public, after apologising to them in court.

Magistrate Victor Axiak heard inspector Darren Buhagiar accuse Svezdin Zerafa, who told the court he was homeless, of insulting or threatening a police sergeant, violently resisting arrest and giving false particulars to the police on 20 July in the Lidl/Burger King parking lot in Qormi.

Zerafa was also accused of living an idle and vagrant life, begging for charity by pestering passers-by, failing to obey legitimate police orders, breaching the peace and attacking a woman. Scant details regarding the latter charge emerged during the man's arraignment and the woman herself was not present in court today, but sources explained that the accused had allegedly spat on the woman's vehicle after harassing her to give him money.

Defence lawyer Daniel Attard told the court that the 22 year old was homeless and lived on the street. The magistrate asked the man if he had anywhere to live. “No,” replied the accused. The magistrate pointed out that there was help available to him if he sought it out. “You’re still young. Everything that happened in the past can change. There is nothing that can’t be solved,” advised the magistrate.

The accused, who had a clean criminal record, pleaded guilty and apologised to the police officer and woman.

“Don’t go begging again as you are pestering people. And respect the police,” warned the magistrate.

Saying it was taking the serious nature of the charges into account, the court asked the parties to approach the bench, where the magistrate and the lawyers had a private discussion. Subsequently the first charge – that of insulting or threatening the police officer - was withdrawn by the prosecution.

In view of his guilty plea, the court conditionally discharged Zerafa for two years, explaining the consequences of this sentence to him. A four year protection order was also issued in favour of the police officer and the civilian woman involved in the incident. The accused was warned that a potential €7000 fine and a prison sentence of up to 2 years awaited if the protection order was breached.