Drunk man 'stabbed four times for crashing borrowed bicycle' court told

A drunken request to use a bicycle landed a man in hospital with four stab wounds and his alleged attacker a stay in the police lockup

This afternoon, Magistrate Gabriella Vella heard police inspector Godwin Scerri from the Qawra police station accuse Briton Simon Anthony Robert Tartaglia, 34, who lives in St. Paul's Bay with causing grievous bodily harm with arms to Stefan Sulak, carrying a knife without a license from the commissioner of police, breaching previous bail conditions, threatening three men with physical violence and disturbing the public peace.

Sulak's companions told the court how after they had had a few drinks, the victim approached a man on a bicycle and jokingly asked to try his bike. They were all “a little bit drunk,” he said.

One of the group, Jakob Stejskal, from Czech Republic also testified today. It was about 2:15am on Friday when they left the bar in St. Paul's Bay, he said. Around 100 metres from the bar, the group of friends had come across the accused who was riding a bicycle. Sulak had asked the rider if they could borrow the bicycle and the rider had agreed.

But the goodwill evaporated when Sulak crashed the bike after riding less than 10m. “The man started going crazy and he had a knife and ran at us. It was a small knife.” Sulak had gone up to the knife-wielding man and pushed him to the ground. “He wanted to talk to him normally but the man was still angry.” Sulak was stabbed in the face, in the neck, under his chin and under his arm, he said.

Asked how he was going to answer to the charges, Tartaglia replied “no comment.” A not guilty plea was registered on his behalf by the court.

Tartaglia's lawyer, Sarah Pirotta Chircop Beck, told the court that she had doubts as to how much the accused was able to understand what was happening and asked for a psychological evaluation.

Pirotta Chircop Beck asked the court to appoint a psychologist to assess his fitness to stand trial and whether he is in a position to understand the charges. The prosecution did not object to the request, provided that he should also determine whether the accused has any history of psychiatric problems. The court upheld the request.

Bail was requested, with the defence arguing that Tartaglia did not know any of the persons whom he had allegedly hurt and could not approach any witnesses.

But Inspector Scerri objected to his release, pointing out that the accused lived in the same locality as the remaining witnesses as well as his victim and had already breached bail once.

The court remanded the man in custody.

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