Appeals court confirms George Degiorgio jail term for threatening police officer over parking ticket

George Degiorgio's seven-month jail term over a 2016 incident in which he threateded a police officer who issued him with a parking ticket has been confirmed on appeal

George Degiorgio had parked his Corvette on a double yellow line
George Degiorgio had parked his Corvette on a double yellow line

George Degiorgio, one of the hitmen convicted for murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia, has lost his appeal against a conviction for threatening a police officer over a parking violation.

In January 2017, Degiorgio had been sentenced to imprisonment for seven months and fined €2,000 over the May 2016 incident on Triq Sir Luigi Preziosi, St Paul’s Bay. An appeal was subsequently filed, arguing amongst other things, that he had been charged under the wrong article of the law and that the offences were time-barred.

The court had heard how police officers on patrol had noticed a Chevrolet Corvette C7 parked on the pavement above a double yellow line, close to a roundabout The officers had asked Degiorgio whether the car was his and he replied “Ħeqq, mela tiegħek jew?” (“Well, it’s not yours is it?”).

When asked by the police to move the car and park it in a legal space, Degiorgio showed no intention to comply and did not get up from his chair. The officers asked him again, warning that he would be fined if he failed to do so. Degiorgio had then replied that it was “not a problem” and got up to move the car. The officers continued their patrol. When they returned, around 10 minutes later, the car had been moved to the opposite side of the road and parked on another double yellow line.

When a police officer drew Degiorgio’s attention to this fact, the defendant had become irate, and began to shout at the officer, cursing him and telling the policeman that he’d pay him back if he issued a ticket. Degiorgio refused to give his particulars and threatened the policeman with retribution, proclaiming that he was not afraid of any police officer or officials. When more officers arrived at the scene, Degiorgio threw the parking ticket he had just been issued, on the ground.

This version of events had been corroborated by other officers.

George Degiorgio had testified in this case, telling the court that he had gone to collect a pizza five minutes prior to the incident. He said that the police had approached him and had “spoken to him with great arrogance,” telling him to move his car. He had then moved it to the other side of the road, explained the defendant.

He said that when a police officer returned a few minutes later and issued a parking ticket anyway, he had told him that he would pay him back. Degiorgio claimed that “many people park there and none of them get a ticket.”

Deciding the appeal, Mr Justice Neville Camilleri observed that although Degiorgio claimed that he had obeyed the police and moved the vehicle, the evidence showed otherwise. The court said it was sure that the policeman’s order had not been for him to move the car from one double yellow line to another.

Likewise his claim that there was no proof that he had refused to give his particulars to the police, was contradicted by the evidence. The charges against him had been issued less than two months after the incident and were therefore not time barred either.

In his appeal application, George Degiorgio had also submitted that he should never have been found guilty of disturbing the public peace.

The judge upheld this ground of appeal, noting that no evidence or testimony had been exhibited by the prosecution to support this charge.

The rest of the grounds on which Degiorgio based his appeal were dismissed. The judge confirmed the seven-month prison sentence and €2,000 fine.