Man's police assault conviction confirmed, €4,000 fine added on appeal

A man has a €4,000 fine added to his sentence, following an appeal by the Attorney General

Sneddon had approached him requesting assistance in a dispute between the Englishman and a neighbour
Sneddon had approached him requesting assistance in a dispute between the Englishman and a neighbour

British man who had received a suspended sentence for assaulting a police inspector and jumping on the bonnet of a police car in 2014 has had an additional €4,000 fine imposed upon him, following an appeal by the Attorney General.

Paul Alan Sneddon had been arraigned before magistrate Audrey Demicoli in August 2014. Prosecuting inspector Godwin Scerri had told that court how, while he had been on traffic-directing duty at an event in Qawra on 17 August, Sneddon had approached him requesting assistance in a dispute between the Englishman and a neighbour. The inspector testified that he was unable to leave his post at the time, as the other officer posted with him was sorting out a traffic problem, and so had directed Sneddon to “wait 10 to 15 minutes, as a police car was due there shortly”. 

At that point the accused, who the inspector had described as “very aggressive, arrogant and sarcastic,” swore at the officer, who arrested him on the spot.

When the police car arrived, the witnesses described to the court how the accused allegedly attempted to escape in the crowded area by jumping on to the bonnet of the police car. 

A scuffle ensued, with the accused “kicking, punching and scratching” police officers. “As he was on the ground, he could not escape,” said the inspector, “so he tried to inflict injury”. The court was shown medical certification of the injuries suffered by the policemen. Police Sergeant Ivan Mifsud, who was struck in the groin and had his radio damaged by the accused, also testified that Sneddon jumped on the bonnet, shouted abuse and made a scene.

 The man was eventually convicted in September 2015 and handed an eight month sentence, suspended for two years. The Attorney General had filed an appeal the following month, in which the prosecutor argued that section 96(a) of the Criminal Code provides for that a person guilty of violently resisting arrest is subject both to imprisonment and to a fine and that the first Court was not correct when condemning respondent only to a term of imprisonment.

Mr Justice Giovanni Grixi, presiding the Court of Criminal Appeal, upheld the Attorney General's application, but noted the “pertinent comments made by the Court of First Instance where it pointed out 'that the Police Officers concerned could perhaps have shown a little more patience and taken the time to explain to the accused that he had to prioritise and could not leave his post to assist him on a matter which did not require immediate intervention and that he would receive the assistance he required at the Police Station.' Although these remarks cannot be interpreted in a manner in which the First Court intended to apply a lesser penalty this Court will apply the minimum pecuniary penalty in order to reflect the preoccupation sounded by the said First Court.”

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