Prosecutorial shortcomings scupper case against Paceville stone-thrower

Court acquits man of injuring another man during a fight in Paceville four years ago, after the prosecution fails to present sufficient evidence

A court has cleared a man of grievously injuring another man during a fight in Paceville, after noting that the only evidence against him was the testimony of the alleged victim and the “unclear” testimony of his friend.

21-year-old Axel Vella had been accused of grievously injuring of Joseph James Criminale, when the two came to blows in Paceville four years ago.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard how Vella had been drinking with two friends, a couple, who had started fighting amongst each other.

Criminale intervened in the fight, attempting to pull them apart, at which point Vella threw a stone at him in what he claimed was self-defence.

However, the case against Vella was hampered by prosecutorial shortcomings.

The court noted that the doctor who had examined Criminale's injuries had failed to present the medical certificate, and that Criminale himself had failed to testify as he had since emigrated to Australia.

The prosecution – led by police inspector Trevor Micallef - failed to summon the doctor who had treated Criminale to confirm the nature of the victim’s injuries on oath, or the people who had triggered the fight in the first place.

Since the only evidence presented was the victim’s statement and the “unclear” testimony of his friend, the court held that the prosecution's case depended on circumstantial evidence.

Vella was hence cleared on the grounds of insufficient evidence.