Youth awaiting trial for maiming policeman in 2018 hit-and-run incident is released on bail

He had first been granted bail several months after his arraignment but was rearrested in May 2019 while driving in breach of his bail conditions

The joyrider accused of the attempted murder of a police officer in a 2018 hit-and-run incident has been granted bail once again, following a positive psychological report. 

Liam Debono is awaiting trial for the attempted murder of PC Simon Schembri whom he ran over in 2018, aged just 17.

After being run over, the police officer was dragged for several metres by Debono’s car, suffering extensive friction burns to his body and causing so much damage to the officer’s arm that it had to be amputated.

Debono was charged with attempted murder and other charges in connection to the incident.

He had first been granted bail several months after his arraignment, secured by a €10,000 deposit and a €40,000 personal guarantee, but was rearrested in May 2019 while driving in breach of his bail conditions.

A month later, Debono was sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years for breaching his court-imposed driving ban and a probation order, driving without a licence or insurance and recidivism. He was also banned from driving for 10 years and lost the money pledged as bail security.

His trial for the attempted murder case had to be postponed after Debono filed a constitutional case, claiming to have suffered a breach of his fair trial rights due to the fact that his previous lawyer had not renounced his brief in time for Debono to appeal his conviction. 

A request to postpone the trial until the conclusion of the constitutional case, filed by Debono’s new legal aid lawyer, was upheld.

Schembri, now assisted by lawyers Mario Mifsud, Nicholas Mifsud and Colin Galea, had subsequently filed a fresh application for bail to the Criminal Court.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, heard various witnesses testify in connection to that request.

Debono had found a job and would start employment upon release and a fixed place of residence was offered by a third party.

A psychologist who had monitored Debono since 2018 told the court that he had changed a great deal, was always attending his appointments, demonstrating an interest during his sessions and had shown improvements to his behaviour.  He had also “learnt to wait,” she said, adding that Debono was being monitored by care workers, who had set up a care plan for him.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera noted that while Debono had been convicted of breaching bail in the past, he had also been punished for it and that the court had heard testimony confirming his newfound maturity.

The judge upheld Debono’s request for bail, ordering his release from arrest, secured by €5000 deposit and a €15,000 personal guarantee. He was ordered to sign a bail book daily and observe a curfew. The court prohibited him from driving whilst on bail.

Lawyers Mario Mifsud, Nicholas Mifsud and legal procurator Colin Galea represented Debono.