Man who threatened to kill police officer's family gets 10 months

A man who, in a drunken rage, bit a police officer and threatened to kill another officer and his family, has been jailed and fined.

65 year old Michael Farrugia was found guilty of assaulting three police officers, biting one of them.
65 year old Michael Farrugia was found guilty of assaulting three police officers, biting one of them.

A man who threatened to kill a police officer and his family in a drunken rage has been jailed for ten months.

Zebbug resident Michael Farrugia, 65 had assaulted three police officers, threatening to to murder the wife and child of one of them, during his arrest at the Zurrieq PN Club in March 2016. The police had called at the premises at 4pm after receiving complaints about loud music and had found the accused swearing, blaspheming and smoking indoors. The barman had told one officer that he had told Farrugia to leave but that he had refused.

A police sergeant had testified to asking the drunk man for his particulars. “First he told me “I am Michael Farrugia who lives in Zebbug but comes from Imqabba and I don't give a f***.'

Shouting and swearing, the man had put his hand on the police officer's shoulder, insulted him and invited him to fight, before turning to tell the other officers that he wasn't afraid of them either. The man smelled strongly of alcohol, the court was told.

Farrugia had refused to give police the rest of his particulars and so was arrested. As soon as this was explained to him, he flew into a rage and threatened to cut off the policemen's heads, whilst trying to punch them.

“He warned me that this was not going to end here...he threatened to kill my wife and children and that he would have no trouble repeating this in a courtroom.”

As he was being escorted to a waiting police car, he had bitten one of the escorting officers. Eventually officers from the Rapid Intervention Unit had to be summoned and, after a struggle, Farrugia was taken to the police station. There, he had continued to shower officers with insults.

Part of his diatribe was recorded on audio inside the police car and the rest on the police station's CCTV system, the court was told, but these recordings were never exhibited.

The accused had claimed to have been drinking at the club since 1030 a.m. and that he had imbibed “between four and six vodkas,” when one police officer had stormed into the establishment, shouting at him and pushing him. “I decided to do the same,” he said. The officer called for backup which quickly arrived. “They held me, I can't tell you what they didn't do. And anyway, I didn't want to get into the car with him. I didn't.”

The court opined that his claim to have been slammed on the police station floor and attacked by 8 officers was “somewhat hard to believe.” It noted that a doctor had certified that Farrugia had incurred multiple bruises on both arms and an abrasion on his left knee, which “could have been caused by rough handling.” There were no marks on his neck or lacerations on his orbital ridge, as he had claimed.

Inspector Charlotte Curmi confirmed the account of what took place at the police station, testifying that the accused was so drunk that he had tripped whilst going up the police station stairs and had tumbled back down to the bottom.

In a judgment, deciding the case, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech took into account the possibility that the police constables who testified had wanted to please their sergeant, but noted that it was unlikely that the police inspector would have testified the way she did to ingratiate herself with a subaltern.

The court did not agree with the defence's argument that the sergeant had “escalated an innocuous situation,” noting that the accused had been blatantly breaking the law and had chosen to confront the officer instead of complying with the request for his particulars.

Farrugia was found guilty as charged. Taking into account the nature of the offences, which it said “undermined the maintenance of law and order and victimises those entrusted with this task,” and the man's criminal record, the court imposed a custodial sentence of 10 months imprisonment, together with a €5000 fine.

Inspector Melvyn Camilleri prosecuted.