'Aggressive' drunk man tried burning down block of flats, court hears

Accused set a gas canister on fire on Tuesday night, while drunk, in what prosecutors have described as an attempt to burn down the block of flats where he resided

Court (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Court (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

An aggressive drunk man set a gas canister on fire on Tuesday night, in what prosecutors have described as an attempt to burn down the block of flats where he resided.

This emerged in court on Friday during the arraignment of Birkirkara resident, Bubakar Kandeh, a 27-year-old restaurant worker from Gambia, before magistrate Noel Bartolo.

Police Inspector Clayton Camilleri, assisted by prosecutor Joseph Camilleri Azarov from the Office of the Attorney General, charged Kandeh with attempted arson, causing others to fear that violence would be used against them, making a loud disturbance during the night time and being drunk and unable to take care of himself in a public place. He was also charged with attacking other persons with intent to annoy or harm them, uttering insults or threats and causing criminal damage.

The police inspector explained that during the night of January 30, the Birkirkara police station had received a report that a black man, who was vomiting blood and appeared to be drunk, had been going around a common area in the block of flats where he lived, furiously banging on his neighbours’ doors, damaging two of them.

When nobody opened, he retaliated by seting a propane gas cylinder that he found in the common part of the flat, on fire.

Police officers had apprehended Kandeh, taking him straight to hospital for treatment. He was arrested upon his release. The court was told that he had cooperated with the police and had released a statement about the incident, during which time he had been assisted by a lawyer.

The court instructed lawyer Brandon Kirk Muscat to represent the defendant as legal aid for the purposes of the arraignment, to replace a colleague of his who was unable to be present for the sitting.

A plea of not guilty was filed by the defence, together with a request for bail and a social inquiry report. Everything pointed to the incident being a one-off offence by the defendant who had a clean criminal record, argued Muscat.

Camilleri Azarov, for the prosecution, objected to bail. The lawyer reminded the court that the defendant had “tried to burn down an apartment block with people inside it.” The risk of flight was not trivial, argued the lawyer, because the address provided by the defendant was the same one he had tried to set alight. The owners of the flat did not want him to stay there any more, added the prosecutor, also highlighting the risk of Kandeh absconding or tampering with the evidence. 

The court, after hearing the arguments from both sides and having taken the circumstances of the case into consideration, denied bail at this stage, due to the nature of the charges and the risk of evidence being lost. The magistrate added that he was not convinced that the man would abide by his bail conditions.

The defence’s request for a social inquiry report was also denied, the court ruling that the case was at too early a stage for it. The magistrate, however, did urge the prosecution to present its evidence and summons its witnesses without delay.