Murdered bank messenger’s face was ‘practically missing’ after shooting – rescuer

Defence in Alphonse Ferriggi murder compilation complain of delay as ‘mastermind’ behind failed bank heist is yet to be summoned • Court rejects bail again.

A first aider who arrived at the scene of the crime after the shooting at the BOV branch on 18 September, 2000 has said that the victim – Alphonse Ferriggi – had his “face practically missing” after the shooting and that he died a few moments later.

The remark was made this morning during the compilation of evidence against James Vella, 33, of Qormi, known as ‘il-Frejzer’, and 35-year-old Chris Scerri, known as ‘Gazzetti’ or ‘Buttuni’ who are pleading not guilty to the murder of BOV bank messenger Alphonse Ferriggi.

Ferriggi was killed with a fatal shot to the head, while in 2011, the “mastermind behind the case,”  Richard Grech ‘Iz-Zinanna’, was jailed for life, and getaway driver Joseph Zammit, known as ‘Zeppi r-Redghu’, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

Testifying, Chris Mangion, who at the time of the murder was a member of the St John’s rescue corps, told the court that on the day of the murder, he had heard a shot, and that a police officer nearby told him that “someone may have died.”

Asked to describe the victim’s condition, the witness underlined that “it was not a case of first aid,” saying that the “victim’s face was practically missing,” and that he died a few moments later.

On her part, the former girlfriend of Richard Grech – whose name cannot be published by court order – told the court that a day after the murder, Grech had told her “I think I killed him.”

While insisting that Grech did not divulge any further details, and not mentioning any other names – including those of the accused – she insisted that she used to take anything Grech said with a pinch of salt because he “used to exaggerate and stretch the truth.”

 “A day after the murder I met Richard at the Qormi playground. He looked very pale and sick, and when I asked him what’s wrong he told me ‘I think I killed him.’ When I asked him what he was talking about he me that he went to steal and that he thought ‘that his friend was going to be shot’,” the witness said while adding that she was “uninterested” in knowing further details about the murder.

On his part, defence lawyer Franco Debono insisted that the witnesses’ testimony should be inadmissible because it is “hearsay.” Moreover, the defence took umbrage at the prosecution for not summoning “the main witness,” – namely, Richard Grech.

“It is unfair for my clients to stay behind bars while waiting for the prosecution to summon the remaining witnesses. This is unfair, bail can no longer be withheld because of the prosecution’s delay,” the lawyer said in his submissions for bail.

The request for bail was once again heavily objected to by prosecuting inspector Chris Pullicino who insisted that even if the prosecution were to summon the remaining witnesses, “the charges are of serious nature,” and that the fear of absconding persists.

In her decree, presiding Magistrate Josette Demicoli once again rejected bail for the fourth time but called on the prosecution to summon all the remaining witnesses.

Inspectors Chris Pullicino and Keith Arnaud are leading the prosecution, while Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are defence counsel.