Soldier cleared of breaking scythe-wielding attacker’s teeth

The court ruled that the serving AFM soldier was acting in self defence when he inflicted serious bodily harm on his attacker

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A serving AFM soldier has been cleared of disfiguring a man who attacked him with a scythe, after a court ruled that he had punched the man in the face in self-defence.

Back in April 2009, 37-year-old Colin Farrugia was accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Augustine Bonello in an altercation that occurred in some fields in Mellieha.

Bonello had told Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera how he had known the accused by sight, as they owned adjacent field and had seen Farrugia hunting in Bonello’s fields on a number of occasions. 

He had been driving near Selmun and, seeing Farrugia drive past, had raised his hand “to cover his face.” He said the accused must have mistaken the gesture for an obscene one, as he had turned his car around, stopped it in front of Bonello’s and proceeded to pummel him.

Bonello suffered a broken nose, bruises and lost several teeth in the alleged assault.

But Farrugia gave an altogether different version, explaining how Bonello, who is taller and of larger build, had emerged from the car with a scythe in hand, which he proceeded to wave about. Farrugia had caught the blade of the scythe, injuring his hand and driven to the nearest police station to file a report.

He had no explanation for the fact that Bonello’s van was awash with blood when he too arrived at the police station, saying he couldn’t understand what had happened.

After conducting a detailed examination of the salient judgments and doctrines applicable to the case, namely the level of proof required in criminal prosecutions, conflicting evidence and self-defence, Scerri Herrera noted a number of contradictions and illogical statements made by Bonello.

By looking at his initial statement to police, released at the time of the incident in question, the court heard how the accused had been tending to his field when Bonello had driven past making obscene gestures and shouting insults – something he regularly did. He got into his van and drove after him “to see why he was doing this,” he said, but the driver emerged with a scythe. He had punched him in the face to defend himself and may have broken some teeth, he conceded.

The court ruled that the accused had acted in legitimate self-defence and that there was therefore, no crime to answer for. Farrugia, who told the court that he had been refused promotions as a result of the case, was acquitted of all charges.

Lawyer Edward Gatt was defence counsel to Farrugia.

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