Suspended sentence for shooting dissatisfied customer

A novel approach to handling customer complaints has earned one man a suspended sentence earlier this week after he was found guilty of shooting another man in an argument over dogs that he had sold

A novel approach to handling customer complaints has earned one man a suspended sentence earlier this week after he was found guilty of shooting another man in an argument over dogs that he had sold.

Philip Borg of Balzan and his son Clive had been arrested after Frederick Dalli was shot in triq San Frangisk, Balzan on 10th December, 2007 in an argument which started when Dalli demanded a replacement to two dogs tal-kina which he had bought from Borg.

Dalli had told a doctor treating him that he had bought two dogs from the man and as they had both died shortly afterwards, had gone to get another dog. An argument erupted and the man shot Dalli three times with a shotgun, one of which hit him in the face.

Although Philip Borg was initially charged with attempted homicide, that charge was eventually dropped and replaced with one of attempted very grievous bodily harm. His son was charged with conspiracy to commit the offence, after it was alleged that he had handed the shotgun to his father.

The men were also charged with offences under the Arms Act. The father alone was also accused of breaching conditions laid down by a previous court for another offence.

Ex-police Inspector Daniel Zammit, who had led the investigation had testified that police received an anonymous report about two men, one covered in blood asking a motorist waiting at traffic lights near the MFSA offices in Mriehel to let him use his phone.

The driver had overheard the man with the bloodied face say “I will come but don’t shoot at me again. Don’t pay me back again.”

From the information Dalli gave them, the Police established the identity of the person who had shot at Dalli and had visited the Borgs’ residence.

Clive and Philip Borg were arrested, with the latter immediately telling the police that he had shot Dalli and had surrendered the semi automatic Breda hunting shotgun which had an expired firearms licence and three empty shotgun shells. An unlicenced Valtro Mini pistol was also found in Philip Borg’s jacket pocket when officers searched him.

The court was told that Dalli’s injuries were certified as being slight, and his facial injuries were classified as abrasions.

Philip Borg had testified that he had not fired the first shot directly at the victim and had been careful not to hit him or his car.

His second shot was aimed at the middle of the road but he had not seen Dalli cross because it was dark, he said. Minutes after the shooting, Dalli had gone back to the man who had just shot at him, who proceeded to give him a cloth to clean himself up with and light up a cigarette, the court was told.

In a judgment handed down earlier this week, Magistrate Doreen Clarke noted that Dalli had initially given contradictory accounts to the police. He had told the police that he was afraid that Borg would “pay him back again,” which corroborated the information given to the police by anonymous informant.

But Philip Borg’s version was also “utterly unintelligible” and “full of contradictions,” noted the magistrate. He had, in fact, claimed to have suffered skull fractures during his arrest, which was contradicted by medical evidence. Clive Borg had insisted that he had been in the kitchen during the shooting were given the lie to by gunshot residue found in his hair.

Borg pleaded self-defence, however, the court said the evidence pointed to Philip Borg having returned from work to find Dalli waiting for him. An argument about the dogs broke out which ended up with Borg firing three shots at Dalli.

The court said it was satisfied that Borg’s first shot had not been aimed at Dalli, saying that this undermined his claim that he was scared of Dalli shooting him first with a revolver.

“In the circumstances as described by Borg, it definitely cannot be said that there was a threat that was unjust, grave and inevitable and consequently, the excuse of legitimate self defense cannot apply.”

In the opinion of the court, had Borg truly thought that Dalli was going to shoot him with a revolver, he would have aimed to stop him and not to scare him.

Although the first shot was a warning shot, into the shadows, the others were fired at Dalli’s retreating figure as he ran away and would have to have been aimed at him, the court said.

Philip Borg was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for four. His firearms were confiscated and he was disqualified from holding a firearms licence for five years. He was also ordered to pay €3051 in expenses.

Clive Camilleri was acquitted of conspiracy to commit the offences, the court holding that there was insufficient evidence to convict.

Lawyer Edward Gatt was defence counsel.