Two cleared of smashing barman's skull during bar brawl

Court says it cannot find the men guilty 'on mere conjectures'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

A court has cleared two brothers of grievously injuring a barman with a heavy beer mug during a brawl inside a Hamrun bar, four years ago.

29-year-old Dion Farrugia and his brother Ramsey Farrugia, 25, were accused of assault using arms improper, threatening the person assaulted and breaching the peace. The younger brother was also charged with relapsing.

The barman had suffered a fractured skull and lacerations to his scalp after he was hit from behind with the weighty tankard, allegedly thrown by one of the accused after a fight broke out at Three Monkeys Bar in Hamrun during the night of the 11 October 2015.

The court had heard how the altercation had been preceded by a verbal argument which the victim had with the bar owner’s cousin, who he had told off for handing out free drinks to her friends at the bar.

As a result of the argument, the barman had ordered everyone out of the bar and shut up shop. But as he stood with his back to the bar, facing a mirror, he saw the two brothers entering the bar again.

At that point, he said, he had been hit on the back of the head by a heavy thrown object which fractured his skull. His injuries were confirmed by a court-appointed expert as being compatible with blunt trauma.

The bar owner, who had arrived after the incident, following a call for assistance from his employee had noticed shattered glass on the floor and lots of bottles toppled over.

Other witnesses at the bar testified to hearing glass shattering from outside the premises and to a massive brawl involving “all persons present,” but could not say whether the accused had been responsible for the man’s injuries.

While the police had pressed charges on the basis of the information given to them by the barman, he later chose not to testify, declaring to have forgiven the accused pair.

In addition, the statements released by the accused had been made without legal assistance and declared inadmissible as evidence.

Noting that the prosecution’s case was not corroborated by eyewitness accounts, that one witness had chosen not to testify to avoid incriminating himself and the fact that the barman was never summoned to testify, the court was not convinced.

Furthermore, said the court, the object that caused the injury was never identified and one of brothers’ fingerprints on four glasses at the bar could only prove that he was inside the establishment.

The magistrate said she could not find the men guilty on “mere conjectures” and acquitted them of all charges.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi was defence counsel.

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