Court drops assault charges after determining accused acted in self-defence

67-year-old man cleared of seriously injuring neighbour over long standing argument after court rules that he was acting in self defence.

A man who came to blows with a neighbour over a long standing argument - which involved a parked car that was making it difficult for the other to take his pony out for a ride - was today acquitted of the charges after the court ruled that he was acting in self-defence.

Joseph Xuereb, 67, was acquitted of grievously injuring Felice Borg and of breaching public peace when the two came to blows on April 12, 2013. The court ruled that Xuereb had acted in self-defence as Borg instigated the assault.

The fight occurred at the entrance to garages in St Edward Street in Qormi on April 12, 2013, when Xuereb parked his car in front of Pace’s garage and when Pace demanded that he move his car, the two came to blows.

In his testimony, Borg told the court that on the day of the incident, Xuereb had parked his car in front of his garage. Borg demanded he move the car so he could take his pony out of the garage. 

Borg testified that Xuereb tried hitting him with a car door and asaulted him when he told him that he was going to the police station to report him.

On his part, Xuereb insisted that he was acting in self-defence as it was Borg – rather than himself – who started the fight. In his testimony, the accused told Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera that as soon as he got out of the car, Pace grabbed him from the car and tried to bite him on his back.

The accused further argued that he tried to push Pace away and he then fell and hit his face, injuring himself. A fight then ensued and Xuereb began to wave his arms to defend himself from the attack, accidentally hitting Pace in the process.

The court held that since it was faced with two contrasting version of events, it had to judge the credibility of the two testimonies. The magistrate said that Xuereb’s version was more credible.

Notwithstanding Xuereb’s version of events, the court argued that Xuereb still assaulted Borg but held that he was acting in self-defence. Moreover, Magistrate Scerri Herrera said that even though Xuereb may have exceeded the limit allowed by law, the court could not expect him to remain calm when faced with such aggression.

The court therefore cleared Xuereb of the charges brought against him.

Lawyers Robert Abela and Albert Zerafa appeared for Xuereb while Police Inspector Joseph Agius prosecuted.