Witness admits he continued to frequent David Gatt even after he threatened him with gun

A police constable who was threatened with a gun to his head, told a court that he continued to frequent the man who pointed the weapon towards him, while also knowing that the same man, former Inspector David Gatt, was the mastermind behind a series of armed heists on banks and armoured vehicles.

Star witness PC99 Mario Portelli admitted to having continued to frequent Gatt socially during the week, when cross-examined by Lawyer Joseph Giglio who is appearing for the accused.

David Gatt remains in custody at Corradino Prisons and appeared again before the courts, as prosecutors presented further evidence.

Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona ordered that an inventory of all David Gatt’s assets be compiled, including salary arrears that he expects from the police force, ten years after he was dismissed and ordered by a court  to be re-instated.

Taking the stand again, star witness PC99 Mario Portelli recalled a time when David Gatt had put a gun to his head – similar to the one presented in court – while telling him: “you’ll soon hear enter the dragon.”

Portelli pointed out that the weapon was a ‘Ruger’ and the same one prosecutors elevated from Gatt’s apartment and exhibited in court.

“When he put the gun to my head, I made David remove it and told him not to joke like that with me,” the witness said, adding that he didn’t quite understand what the accused meant when he mentioned the dragon.

Portelli said that three weeks after the attempted heist on the HSBC headquarters in Qormi, he had met with David Gatt in a restaurant in Sliema.

“Gatt told me that he had organised that heist and had been planning it for five months, and with the help of a bank employee he obtained information on how to enter the bank,” Portelli said, adding that Gatt looked very worried as Darren Debono had been injured by a bullet fired by the police who returned fire in the shootout that ensued.

According to the witness, David Gatt was particularly worried at the prospect that a doctor with whom he [Gatt] contacted, might mention his name in court.

The witness added that Gatt explained to him that during his conversation with the doctor he said: “you're a doctor; I'm a lawyer.

The doctor – identified by his nickname ‘Goofy’ – was approached by Gatt to examine Darren Debono soon after the foiled heist on the HSBC headquarters, but could not assist at that time, as an X-Ray was necessary and any haphazard intervention could permanently disfigure the injured man.

During his evidence, PC99 Mario Portelli told the court that David Gatt had shown him the doctor’s clinic in Balzan when they had once driven close to it.

At this point, Magistrate Micallef Trigona clarified that this PC Portelli’s evidence was based on things the accused had told him and not because the witness was actually present during the events he mentioned.

Defence counsel Joseph Giglio complained that most of the evidence being presented by the prosecution was irrelevant to the case asked for the “true evidence” to be speeded up, so that witnesses “more relevant to the case” give their testimony.

Another witness called to the stand was Labour MP Chris Cardona, a lawyer by profession who had rented an office to David Gatt to work from as a graduated lawyer. He presented a statement relating how he knows the accused.

The defence asked why Chris Cardona was taken to Police Headquarters in relation to this case.

Cardona explained that when he attended a court sitting where David Gatt was accused, he was pulled aside and asked if it were a problem for him to meet later that day, to clear ‘certain issues’ regarding the case.

The witness denied having ever heard David Gatt talk about planning any hold-ups.

Asked again by the defence if he was given any orders, Cardona said that since he was to be a witness in the proceedings, he did not continue to attend hearings.

In addition Chris Cardona was also asked not to speak to David Gatt.

In further evidence, it also transpired that David Gatt refused legal assistance when arrested and asked to release a statement.

Another witness, a security guard at the HSBC headquarters control room on the day of the heist, denied any knowledge of David Gatt.

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