Man who assaulted inspector inside the courtroom told her: 'I want to kill you, but I forgive you'

Man who assaulted police in court was suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms, court told

A man was charged with aggressive behaviour inside a courtroom, where he insulted and assaulted the prosecuting inspector
A man was charged with aggressive behaviour inside a courtroom, where he insulted and assaulted the prosecuting inspector

A man who assaulted a police inspector during a court sitting earlier this week was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, his father has claimed.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud heard several witnesses testify this morning, including the magistrate in whose courtroom the events occurred. As Magistrate Charmaine Galea’s testimony dealt with the man’s case, which was being held behind closed doors, it is unreportable.

What was already reported is that after Magistrate Galea denied the man bail on Monday, he launched a tirade of verbal abuse at Inspector Kylie Borg, before becoming aggressive.

At a point he grabbed Borg by the arm and caused bruises which she showed to the court this morning.

Inspector Borg took the witness stand today, as lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General and an Assistant Police Commissioner looked on.

The man had been arrested in connection with a domestic violence incident and was spoken to at the Qormi police station. He was insisting that he didn’t want to go to prison as he hadn’t done anything wrong, she said.

When the man appeared in court on Monday, he called his father “heartless” for trying to get him treated for his addiction, she said.

Inspector Borg had suggested that he be held at Mount Carmel Hospital instead of the Corradino Correctional Facility and this sent the man into a fit of rage.

He had been stopped from shouting a number of times by both the inspector and his lawyer, Michael Tanti Dougall. But when bail was denied, he became irate and used an array of colourful language against the inspector, accusing her of wanting to ruin his life, Borg explained.

He also started pointing his finger at the magistrate, calling her cruel, she said.

“I started tapping him on the shoulder telling him to calm down as it wouldn’t do him any good…at one point he pushed my hand away and sat down. He was insulting me the whole time. Then he stood up with such force that he knocked the bench over.”

Police tried to hold him back as he was struggling. He then started threatening to kill the inspector, grabbed her arms and started pressing, bruising her, she said.

Police officers present in the courtroom held him down. “I want to kill you but I forgive you,” she reported him as saying, pointing out that he was a Born-again Christian as context to the odd statement.

As he was being taken away he started to shout insults again, saying he wanted to kill the Inspector, Borg said, adding that lawyer Mario Mifsud, who was passing by, had then stood in between the man and the inspector to protect her.

Lawyer Lennox Vella, appearing parte civile for the inspector, asked her if she had instructed him to calm down. She had but he didn’t, she said.

Tanti Dougall asked who the man had erupted at first. “His father for not withdrawing the case,” came back the reply. “The second eruption was more aggressive and threatening and was aimed at me.”

Lawyer Mario Mifsud also took the witness stand to testify about the incident. “On 22 July I had finished a sitting and was walking out of court. At a point I saw 3 police officers leaving Charmaine Galea’s hall with a person in custody. The police were discussing how to transport the accused. As soon as the inspector opened her mouth the individual started insulting her and attacked her.

I’m taught that when I see these things happening, I try to calm them down.” The accused had “started saying all kinds of things and was trying to break free from the police officers holding him back”. Two officials from CCF then appeared and had subdued the man, concluded the lawyer.

The prosecution declared its evidence closed and it was then the defence’s turn to summon a witness. The accused’s father took the stand.

“He’s on Suboxone which should reduce pain of drug withdrawal. It’s like methodone but better.”

Asked what he’s like when his son isn’t taking his medicine. “It can alter you completely. He loses himself. You cannot take suboxone and cocaine as you will go completely out of your mind. What I think happened was that he took suboxone… it was like a miracle, transformation, joined River of Love and got a diploma… but then he must have taken cocaine. He was not given treatment in the lockup. He must have had a terrible night in the lockup in pain without treatment. Obviously, he started saying stupid things when he was brought here. ‘I’ll pay you back,’ he says that to everyone.”

But the man then made an allegation, as startling as it is unlikely, about the inspector.

“I want to say the truth before God and the court. [After the verbal abuse] the inspector, in a split second, jumped a barrier, grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall,” said the father. “She lost it. The physical aggression was started by the police.”

The prosecution and parte civile protested loudly at this statement, prompting the court to intervene. Magistrate Mifsud said he had the version of the magistrate and would view CCTV videos before reaching his conclusions.

Intoxication was not a valid defence in this case, pointed out the magistrate.

Lawyer Lennox Vella then made submissions, disagreeing with the suggestion that Inspector Borg had been aggressive and arguing that the inspector had been trying to defend the magistrate when she had attempted to hold the man back.

In his submissions, Tanti Dougall argued that the man was “not a criminal, he’s sick.”

But the court was having none of it and replied that “the aggressor should not be made out to be the victim.”

The defence lawyer submitted that the man had not been provided with the medication he needed due to an administrative oversight and that this had precipitated the chaotic episode.

The court said it would be passing judgment on Monday.

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