Man gets community service for road rage incident

A man has been handed a 480-hour community service sentence over a road rage incident

The accused had also claimed that Zammit had got out of the car and tried to flee on foot, only to be mowed down by another car
The accused had also claimed that Zammit had got out of the car and tried to flee on foot, only to be mowed down by another car

A man has been handed a 480-hour community service sentence over a road rage incident.

Philip Cauchi, 46, from Zebbug had initially been charged with the attempted murder of Tonio Zammit, grievous bodily harm, damaging his belongings and breaching the peace in March 2006. The attempted murder charge was later dropped.

The accused had been out with his girlfriend, parking at what was known as Pender Parking Place in St. Julians. As they were about to leave, her car was struck by another vehicle, which drove off. Cauchi had got out of the car to take down the fleeing car’s number, whilst his girlfriend had also alighted to examine the extent of the damage caused to her car.

At that moment, another vehicle, driven by Zammit – who was 19 at the time, had struck Cauchi’s girlfriend with a wing mirror. Zammit had stopped immediately. Cauchi had returned by then and seeing the accident, had opened the driver’s door and laid into the hapless man, pummelling him with his fists.

The accused then claimed that Zammit had got out of the car and tried to flee on foot, only to be mowed down by another car.

Zammit, however, insisted that after running away from his car, the accused had followed him and continued to punch him. He was saved by car park security attendants.

Zammit suffered injuries all over his body, but had particularly severe injuries to his face.

Court-appointed medical experts reported that the man had been beaten up but had also hurt himself on the car park’s rough surface in his mad scramble to safety. A laceration on the bridge of his nose had been caused by a blow to his face, he said.

Although permanent, the facial scar suffered by Zammit as a result was deemed “grievous” and not “very grievous” by the experts.

There was no evidence to show that Zammit had been run over, they concluded.

There was also no evidence of any injuries being suffered by the girlfriend of the accused, said the court. Although the accused said in his statement that he had seen his girlfriend on the ground, crying, he hadn’t gone to her aid, but had made a beeline for Zammit, noted magistrate Marseann Farrugia. The woman had later claimed to have suffered a broken ankle but this had not been mentioned at the time by police witnesses and was therefore disregarded by the court.

Zammit had claimed to have suffered at least €2600 in damages, including a €1600 dentist bill but the court ruled that the damage to his teeth was not a crime against property but against the person. The court whittled down the damages to €382.

The court underlined the gravity of the crime, saying that it was not acceptable in a civil society to have a person who stops to see what happened after an accident end up receiving a beating, disfigured and suffering from psychological trauma.

It noted that the accused had shown remorse for what he had done, blaming the fact that he had already been incensed by finding the damage to his car and had lost control when Zammit had struck his girlfriend and hurt her.

Noting that Cauchi’s probation officer had given a positive report about the man, the court said that a prison sentence would be too harsh and that there was no risk of the accused committing another crime.

It found him guilty of grievous bodily harm and criminal damage and sentenced him to 480 hours of community work. He was also ordered to pay €382 to the victim.

Lawyer Roberto Montalto was defence counsel.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Sammut prosecuted.

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