Court told how police prevented Zejtun man from stabbing his brother

Court told how accused pulled a knife on his brother, while in the presence of police officers, who subsequently found cannabis both on his person and at his residence

File photo
File photo

A man has been remanded in custody after a court was told how he had pulled a knife on his brother, while in the presence of police officers who subsequently found cannabis both on his person and at his residence.

35-year-old Jeffrey Schembri from Zejtun was arraigned before magistrate Victor Axiak on Tuesday by police inspectors Omar Zammit and Jonathan Cassar. Schembri was charged with attacking his brother, threatening him and causing him to fear that violence would be used against him.

The defendant was also charged with carrying a knife in public without the necessary police permit and breaching the peace. He was further charged with illicitly cultivating cannabis plants and recidivism.

Inspector Zammit told the court how yesterday, the Zejtun police station had received a report of a fight taking place in the street. Officers dispatched to the scene had found Jeffrey Schembri arguing with his brother Christopher over an inheritance-related issue.

“At one point,” the inspector said, “Jeffrey pulled out a penknife with a blade over 8cm in length and attempted to attack his brother with it.” He was restrained by the police before any injuries could be inflicted.

After Schembri was arrested, the police discovered that he had been carrying 28g of marijuana on his person. A search of his residence discovered further 14 small cannabis plants.

Cross-examined by Schembri’s lawyer Matthew Xuereb, the inspector confirmed that the accused’s brother had given a different version of events to that submitted by the accused.

The lawyer claimed that his client “did not even know he had been arrested,” but this was immediately contradicted by the inspector, who told the court that Schembri had been told the reasons for his arrest immediately upon being restrained and then had been given this information again at the police lockup, where he had also been informed about the drugs discovered in his possession.

Xuereb told the court that the defendant had frequently reported his brother to the police, and asked the inspector why the Attorney General had requested his client’s arrest on the basis of “a few broken plants.”

Inspector Zammit replied that this was a question which only the Attorney General could answer.

Schembri pleaded not guilty and bail was requested.

“If we take the drugs out of the equation, which all the evidence points to being for his own use, the crimes with which he is charged are mostly dealt with in summary proceedings,” submitted the defence, adding that it had been the defendant who had asked for the police’s assistance.

“Yes, there is a family feud but his mother is present in the courtroom and will vouch for him,” submitted the lawyer.

The defendant’s brother had not been injured in the assault, confirmed the inspector. The incident had also taken place in the presence of the police, said the inspector, describing defendant’s version of events as having been “slightly confused.”

The court was told that the police had not yet started investigating the brother, as the criminal complaint requesting the investigation had only been filed this morning.

But after the court heard the prosecution’s objections to bail, which included the fact that the victim and the defendant lived “almost next door” to each other, it denied bail.

Magistrate Axiak explained that he was not convinced that the accused would be able to comply with his bail conditions, which would necessarily include him not approaching prosecution witnesses.