19-year-old facing charges after trying to run over mechanic, pointing gun at him, over repair job

Zven Azzopardi allegedly pointed a gun at his mechanic and tried to run him over with an uninsured Kia Picanto

19-year-old Zven Azzopardi is being charged with dangerous driving and detaining the victim against his will, amongst several other charges
19-year-old Zven Azzopardi is being charged with dangerous driving and detaining the victim against his will, amongst several other charges

A man who allegedly pointed a gun at his mechanic and tried to run him over following a dispute over the quality of his work has been remanded in custody on multiple charges.

Police Inspectors Darren Buhagiar and Kurt Farrugia arraigned 19-year-old Zven Azzopardi from Gudja in court on Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of a long list of offences.

Azzopardi, who told the court he was a shop owner, was charged with threatening the mechanic in Cospicua on April 10, being in possession of a firearm and ammunition without the necessary licence, detaining the victim against his will with intent to force him to accept his demands and attacking him.

The 19-year-old was also charged with dangerous driving, in an uninsured Kia Picanto, the number plates on which were registered to another vehicle, misuse of electronic telecommunications equipment, using that equipment to threaten to commit a crime and uttering insults and threats at the mechanic.

He was also accused of insulting or threatening three police officers who had been escorting him to the Floriana Health Centre, breaching his bail conditions and recidivism.

Inspector Buhagiar told Magistrate Astrid May Grima how, on Monday afternoon, the police had received a report of a violent incident in which a car was allegedly driven at a person, at whom a firearm was also subsequently pointed.

Officers from the police’s Rapid Intervention Unit were dispatched to patrol the area, in a bid to locate the suspect, but were unsuccessful. At around 1am the next morning, the defendant had turned himself in at the police station and was taken into custody after being read his rights.

Lawyer Franco Debono, assisting the defendant together with lawyer Marion Camilleri, contested the validity of the arrest in view of the fact that the man had voluntarily surrendered at the police station.

The police inspector clarified that Azzopardi had gone to the police station to check whether the police were looking for him because he had heard that they were.

He was arrested after the duty officer recognised him as the person mentioned in the report.

The court declared the arrest to be valid.

Azzopardi pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The prosecution objected to the man’s request for bail, arguing that he was facing 16 charges, which included serious offences involving violence, as well as breaching bail.

Inspector Buhagiar added that Azzopardi was residing at a rented property in Gudja, which was not the address stipulated in his bail conditions. Moreover, civilians were yet to testify, he said.

Lawyer Marion Camilleri, defence counsel together with Debono, replied that the Gudja address was far from Cospicua and that the law did not require the address to be owned by the person requesting bail.

The number of charges were irrelevant for the purposes of bail because he was presumed innocent of them at this stage, submitted the lawyer, adding that some of the charges were also alternative to one another.

She argued that had the defendant wanted to try and suborn witnesses, he had “every opportunity to do so,” but had not.

The defendant gave himself up the next day, pointed out the lawyer, saying that this showed that he was a trustworthy character. “He didn’t go into hiding.”

Inspector Buhagiar rebutted, arguing that by committing another offence whilst on bail, Azzopardi had betrayed the court’s trust. “This is an aggravated offence, involving a firearm which was found, together with ammunition, in his car.” Azzopardi did not have a firearms licence, he said.

Besides this, one of the defendant’s cars was still in the mechanic’s workshop, which meant that they would necessarily have to be in contact with each other if he were to be released on bail.

The court refused the bail request and ordered Azzopardi be remanded in custody, both in view of the nature of the charges as well as the fact that a number of civilian witnesses were yet to testify.