Updated| Birkirkara youth charged with punching girl in the head with knuckleduster granted bail

Leon Borg, who was arrested on Christmas day, is charged with grievously injuring a girl after arguing with her boyfriend.

The court heard how the assault took place inside the public garden known as “tal-istazzjon” at Birkirkara
The court heard how the assault took place inside the public garden known as “tal-istazzjon” at Birkirkara

A 20-year-old man from Birkirkara who was charged with grievously injuring a girl with a knuckleduster this morning, has been released on bail

Construction worker Leon Borg was arraigned before magistrate Aaron Bugeja this morning, his 20th birthday. Inspector Elton Taliana charged the man with grievously injuring the girl, whose name cannot be published by order of the court, carrying a weapon without the necessary licence, breaching the peace and violating previously-imposed bail conditions.

Inspector Taliana explained how the accused had been arrested on Christmas day and had refused to consult a lawyer. Borg had been on bail, having been charged in July with deliberately running over a man following an argument.

The court heard how the assault took place inside the public garden known as “tal-istazzjon” at Birkirkara at around 10:30am on Sunday. It appears that Borg's girlfriend and the victim had argued on Facebook before meeting at the garden to settle the issue. The inspector told the court that the accused had been carrying a knuckle duster when he confronted the victim's boyfriend, Stefano Muscat, who allegedly brandished a penknife. For reasons that did not emerge clearly in this morning's sitting, the accused is thought to have then punched Muscat's girlfriend in the head using the brass knuckles. The victim may have suffered a perforated eardrum, the inspector said, but added that this had not yet been conclusively established.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono entered a not guilty plea for Borg and requested bail. Debono insisted that in this case, the accused had been defending himself from an attack by the boyfriend of the alleged victim. He exhibited a jacket that had been handed to him in court by the accused, pointing to holes that he claimed were caused by a knife.

Borg had waved the jacket to disrupt the attack and it had been slashed with the knife, he explained. Answering a question about the jacket by the court, Inspector Taliana explained that item had not been seized as evidence because at no point did Borg tell the police that he had been attacked with the knife.

The accused had been on bail for a similar charge and had admitted to having gone to confront the other person about Facebook chats and had been in possession of a knuckle duster, Taliana elaborated, as he pointed out that while it was true that a penknife had been drawn, it hadn't been drawn by the person who had been punched in the face.

The court noted that the accused had already been granted bail and breached his conditions and that the accused and the victim, who is a minor, reside in the same area and there could be a possibility that evidence could be contaminated or compromised.

Debono attempted to reassure the court that if the accused were to be granted bail, he would be staying in Qawra with his mother.

He argued that it could not be said that the accused had breached his bail conditions because his guilt in the other case had not been ascertained by a court. Criminal procedure had been turned on its head in one fell swoop, the lawyer said. “The inspector's submissions give the impression that he had already found him guilty. The other proceedings were still underway and he is still presumed innocent.”

Debono suggested that experience had shown the number of people who actually approach witnesses to be “really small.”

A decree granting bail against a deposit of €1000 and a personal guarantee of €10,000 was issued from chambers later this afternoon. 

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