Man with 120 convictions jailed over police station assault

61-year-old man jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of assaulting, threatening, and insulting seven police officials back in 2008.

A 61-year-old man with 120 previous convictions has been sentenced to 12 months behind bars after being found guilty of assaulting and threatening seven police officials in 2008.

Joseph Zahra, of Hal-Far, was also found guilty of assaulting and threatening four police officials; of threatening four other police constables; of being in the illegal possession of a knife, of disobeying police orders, of slightly injuring Constable Christopher Farrugia, and of relapsing.

The incident occurred on 19 July 2008 when the accused went to the Birzebbugia police station, threatening Inspector Priscilla Caruana that he “would throw a tyre at her [Caruana] face for continuously mocking him.” Zahra was also heard insulting several police officers.  

The accused was then issued a ticket for having expired insurance, and after going into his car, he grabbed a knife from between the seats. The court also heard that despite being ordered to give up his knife, the police had to use pepper spray to subdue him.

Zahra was then put into the lockup and told Sergeant Gerald Attard “I know where you live. I will find you in Marsa. I will come for you at night.”

In its ruling the court held that it was “not tolerable” for a person to grab a knife and threaten and assault police officials.

In his decree, Magistrate Ian Farrugia noted that the accused accumulated 120 convictions since 1963. The magistrate added that he had been given all sorts of punishments ranging from fines to jail terms yet he kept ending up in court.

In 2002,  Zahra was jailed for six months after the court ruled that he was unable to control his emotions and passion and over-reacted to the least frustration, while a year later, he was convicted of threatening the former chairman of the Public Transport authority Victor Spiteri and of throwing a flowerpot at a police inspector.

Taking this into account, the court sentenced Joseph Zahra to 12 months in prison and handed him a €200 fine – describing the sentence as the “last chance to reform.”

Inspector Priscilla Caruana prosecuted while Magistrate Ian Farrugia presided.