Escapee paid €150 for fake certificate to skip court sitting, magistrate is told

Police inspector testifies against suspected drug trafficker Jason Micallef, who is accused of pushing over a police officer, escaping from lawful custody, driving a car without a driver's licence, breaching his bail conditions and relapsing

A court has been told how a man who escaped from custody after being detained for breaching bail had told police he bought a sick certificate for €150.

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja presided a sitting in the compilation of evidence against 22 year old Jason Micallef from Cospicua, earlier today. Micallef is charged with committing an offence against police officer acting in the line of duty, escaping from lawful custody, driving a car without a driver's licence, breaching his bail conditions and relapsing.

Inspector Jonathan Ransley testified how, on 17th March this year, Micallef had failed to appear for a court sitting in a drug trafficking case against him. That day the court had been told that Micallef was sick and unable to attend and had promised to exhibit a medical certificate. Micallef had failed to sign his bail book several times and had been warned about doing so again, Inspector Ransley said. The inspector told the court that he noticed how, on the 17th March - the same day his mother had testified that he was sick, Micallef had actually gone to the police station and signed his bail book. He had also changed his address and not informed the police, the inspector said.

Police subsequently tried to rearrest Micallef on 22nd March on the strength of a warrant issued by a magistrate, when he next went to sign his bail book, but he had escaped from custody.

Micallef was arrested on March 29th following a tip off. “We learned that Micallef was living in Cospicua...I had sent officers to find him.” The accused is also alleged to have lived in Marsa instead of residing in Gzira as required by his bail conditions.

Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri asked whether the inspector had been called by Micallef's family members to say that he was being threatened over a debt. He had, said the inspector, but only during the court proceedings. The explanation Micallef had given the police for his failure to sign his bail book was always illness, he said.

The accused had not told police who was threatening him, Insepctor Ransley said. The prosecution suggested that the man had inherited a sum of money and gambled it away, getting into debt as a result of his gambling problem. 

Police sergeant Brian Mifsud who had been ordered to execute the arrest warrant on Micallef, described the unsuccessful re-arrest attempt. “When he came to the police station at around noon, I immediately informed him that he was under arrest due to the warrant issued for breaching bail conditions.”

The witness said that Micallef had told police that he had made a sick certificate that had cost him €150 from a doctor in Qormi. “He also said that he had left his girlfriend and child in the car and that only he could drive it. Inspector Ransely sent me down to check the insurance and road licence. He started speeding up his pace in the road. I told him to stop. As we reached the end of the pavement near Rudolf street. he reached behind himself and caused me to lose my balance.” A green Volkswagen was waiting outside a nearby pharmacy and drove up to where the accused was, but the officer had not seen the driver or the accused board the vehicle. “As soon as the accused knocked me over, the car drove in his direction.” 

Cross-examined by the defence, the officer said he had never heard any mention of any threats against the accused.

The case continues next week. Bail was not requested at this stage.