Paul Sheehan released on bail, placed under bill of indictment

Inspector Gabriel Micallef, whose partner is Sheehan's sister, drove Smith's car onto police low-loader • Police constable removed bullets from Sheehan’s loaded gun.

PC Paul Sheehan, the driver of former home affairs minister Manuel Mallia, was this morning released on bail under very stringent conditions and placed under a bill of indictment over charges of attempted murder.

Sheehan is currently being charged with the attempted murder of Stephen Smith, when he shot at Smith's car after the latter hit the home affairs minister’s car on November 19. An inquiry set up to investigate the shooting incident concluded that Sheehan had shot two bullets at Smith’s Vauxhall, and that there was a cover-up attempt by individuals close to Paul Sheehan to hide the facts of the case.

He is pleading not guilty to attempted murder, using violence against Smith, causing voluntary damage to a vehicle, discharging a firearm in a public place and exceeding the limits of his authority as a police officer.

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja heard that it was Police Inspector Gabriel Micallef who drove Smith’s vehicle that had been shot by bullets onto a low-loader.

Micallef is the partner of Paul Sheehan’s sister. As yet, even though he was initially interrogated on the matter, Micallef has not been charged with tampering evidence.

Zarb explained that on November 19, (now former) acting police commissioner Ray Zammit ordered him to investigate the incident and to carry out a breathalyser test on Stephen Smith, while gunshot residue swabs were taken.

“Upon arriving at the scene, there were several police officers, the minister’s car on the side of the road and a Vauxhall on the low loader. I noticed that there were two bullet holes lodged in the Vauxhall: one under the car’s taillights, and the other just above the windscreen.”

“Sheehan indicated where he shot his gun and two police officials were deployed to search for the bullet cases. However, they came back empty-handed, and after I left, I was informed that another team of officers went searching for the cartridges again,” Zarb explained.

Describing Paul Sheehan as being in a state of panic, the assistant police commissioner explained that the car’s number plates were not the usual GM14 plates.

Grilled by lawyer Joe Giglio, who is appearing in parte civile for Stephen Smith, Zarb could not ascertain whether the GM14 number-plate had been removed but nevertheless confirmed that it was in fact in the car booth in case of official duties – contrasting two previous witnesses which held that they the car had the ‘GM’ number plates.

Zarb also said that Sheehan’s gun had been discharged and put into the car’s glove compartment until officers arrived.

“The gun was loaded and could have been easily triggered or shot again. Therefore as a safety precaution, PC Reuben Zammit removed the bullets and later put the gun in the car’s glove compartment,” Zarb explained.

At the end of the sitting, Magistrate Aaron Bugeja upheld the defence’s request for bail, and granted Sheehan bail against a €5,000 deposit and a €15,000 personal guarantee.

Sheehan was also ordered to sign a bail book three times a week, and ordered not to approach any witnesses. Moreover, the magistrate held that there is enough prima facie evidence to place Sheehan under a bill of indictment.

Inspector Saviour Baldacchino and Superintendent Alexandra Mamo led the prosecution, while Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha and Edward Gatt appeared for Sheehan.

The case continues in January.