Irish CEO released from custody over Paceville brawl

Irishman Justin Caffrey accused of assaulting police officer after attempting to stop young tourist from being beaten by Paceville bouncers • police officers allegedly ignored call for assistance

Accused Justin Caffrey says he alerted police to a tourist being beaten up by Paceville bouncers
Accused Justin Caffrey says he alerted police to a tourist being beaten up by Paceville bouncers

A financial services company CEO has been released from custody after he was arrested in what is alleged to have been an attempt to stop a young tourist from being beaten by bouncers in Paceville earlier today.

Irishman Justin James Caffrey, who spends over one hundred days a year in Malta for work purposes, was arrested at around 4:50am Wednesday morning on St. George’s Road in Paceville, and accused of having assaulted and reviled a public officer in the carrying out of his duties, breaching the peace and disobeying police orders. He was also charged with being drunk and uttering obscene words in public.

Lawyer Giannella De Marco, representing the accused, told magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera that her client had been walking in Paceville at the time and saw a young Danish boy being beaten by a group of club bouncers. He sought help for the boy from a group of police officers, who she claimed took one glance at the scene and walked away.

When the Irishman tapped one policeman on the shoulder and asked him to do something about the situation, he was pinned to the ground and arrested for interfering in a police investigation. The man was subsequently taken to hospital suffering from an asthma attack.

Inspector Trevor Micallef, prosecuting, but who had not been involved in the arrest, said that he had been informed at around 5:30am that a group of officers had been called to a fight in front of Burger King. When they arrived they found a boy on the ground who was later certified as having slight injuries. The boy’s name was Francesco Coppola, he said.

The officers had told the inspector that the accused had approached them and “was trying to interfere in the investigation telling them what to do and saying he was a judge”.

When the victim was in the police car, he allegedly called the officers “f*cking b*stards”, added the inspector.

De Marco asked whether the accused had been telling the police that there was a youth who was being beaten by bouncers, and whether any arrests had been made other than that of the accused. No other arrests were made, the inspector confirmed.

De Marco explained that the the accused's shirt was covered with blood, which he claimed was from the boy. She said that the accused’s interference consisted in telling the police to get copies of the CCTV footage of the attack and call the ambulance, and that Caffrey was pleading with the police to stay on the scene until the ambulance arrived, which the inspector said they had done.

Asked by the defence, he admitted that police had not spoken to the bouncer and that the young victim had not filed a complaint for his slight injuries. “From the report it appears that the Police had not made inquiries” said De Marco. The inspector replied that “the boy was not in a state to be questioned at the time.”

“We had only one car. One car with the accused and could not accompany the boy to hospital.”

He added that he had spoken to the local warden’s office for CCTV footage but not the club.

Lawyer George Hyzler, also appearing on behalf of Caffrey said the accused's suspicions that the officers were simply walking away from a crime scene had been proved to be well-founded by the inspector’s testimony, as they had not made any investigations, nor had they made the slightest effort to track down the victim.

The court ordered the accused be released, however it obliged him not to leave Malta prior to the conclusion of this case. The prosecution was ordered to track down the alleged victim and present him, together with the police officers present during the incident at the next sitting.

The accused was allowed to continue to travel to and from Ireland due to the nature of his employment but was bound to inform the police of his trips and limit the place of his stays, to one of two St Julian's hotels.