[WATCH] Teenager charged with attempted murder of police officer

17-year-old driver Liam Debono charged with attempted murder of police officer Simon Schembri was remanded in custody • Court turned down request for ban on publication of the accused's name

17-year old Liam Debono from Tarxien was charged with attempted murder (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
17-year old Liam Debono from Tarxien was charged with attempted murder (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Teenager charged with attempted murder of police officer

Updated with charges against Liam Debono

A 17 year-old has been charged with the attempted murder of a police constable whom he ran over in Luqa on Tuesday morning.

Police constable Simon Schembri was nearly killed when he was run over by Liam Debono, suffering a collapsed lung and fractures to his pelvis and ribs. Schembri’s right arm had to be amputated below the elbow as a result of the injuries sustained.

The officer also suffered severe friction burns from his cheek down to his abdomen from having been dragged for a considerable distance by the silver Mercedes that the underage motorist was allegedly driving.

The accused, a labourer from Tarxien, pleaded not guilty to a plethora of charges.

The teenager was “known to the police” and had been pulled over for driving dangerously and without a licence in the past, reports said.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia assisted the defendant.

Andy Ellul appeared as parte civile for the injured officer.

The prosecution objected to a request for bail, pointing to the “impressive gravity” of the offence. The accused had attacked and attempted to murder a police officer, Saliba said, pointing out that during the investigation, the accused had given the police three different residential addresses, making it difficult to trust him. The man was not living with his parents, but in a Fgura garage with a friend, but the Inspector pointed out that he gave his grandparents’ address to the police.

He had not learned from previous mistakes related both to illegal driving and other criminal matters, Inspector Pierreguido Saliba said.

The accused, Liam Debono, as he was leaving court (Photo: Massimo Costa)
The accused, Liam Debono, as he was leaving court (Photo: Massimo Costa)

A number of witnesses were yet to testify.

Debono argued that the accused had testified before the inquiring magistrate and that the law prevented him from retracting it.

The accused sat with his head bowed down, hands clasped in the dock as his lawyer said that he hoped the injured officer will recover. “We do our job as court officials but we also show sympathy with the victim. We do our job with a humane sentiment,” said the lawyer.

After retiring for a brief moment, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech refused the request for bail and denied a request for a ban on the publication of the accused's name. The court issued a decision after rewiewing the Minors Act, which said that a ban on publication of names applied to those under 16.

The incident happened close to the roundabout near Lidl supermarket, in Triq Hal Qormi in Luqa on Tuesday at 7.40am.

According to a police statement, Schembri tried to stop the young driver to ask for his driving licence and related documentation. This prompted the driver to try to escape, hitting the constable in the process and draggng him for several metres.

Sources said that the 17-year-old driver hit the policeman near Lidl and kept driving, dragging the officer along on the car bonnet. The policeman later fell off the car, and was run over again, next to the industrial area.

Schembri is a 48-year-old police constable from Paola and has three children.

The underage driver appears to have crashed the car he was driving in Triq Ħal Farruġ, Luqa before being apprehended by the police.

Earlier

Schembri was run-over by 17-year-old Liam Debono yesterday morning, after he stopped the young man during a traffic check. Instead of stopping, the teenager ran over the constable, and dragged him for around 40 metres.

Schembri was taken to hospital where he is being treated for serious conditions.

Police said that Schembri needed urgent medical intervention and lost a lot of blood. Sources also confirm that his right arm was amputated from below the elbow. He suffered a collapsed lung, a broken pelvis, ribs and multiple fractures. He also suffered severe burns from his cheek down to his abdomen after he was dragged for seveal metres.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, the National Blood Transfusion Service urged people to donate blood. 

While showing solidarity with the police officer and police corps, they said that there was no call for a particular blood type but urged the public to go donate blood.

Home Affairs Minister, Michael Farrugia also reported that the Victim Support Unit and Police Counselling Unit together with Chaplain services held a debriefing session with Traffic police officers after the incident. He also said that Schembri’s family and relatives were being taken care of by the Victim Support Unit.

Various people took to social media to offer solidarity to Schembri, including the President, Prime Minister, and leader of Opposition.

Two of his children also took to Facebook to lament on their father’s condition.

His son, Sheean said that it was insane that while he was waiting to see if his father's condition got better, people on Facebook were "writing such stupidity".

'Lives in Blue do matter' -Schembri's son, Sheean on Facebook
'Lives in Blue do matter' -Schembri's son, Sheean on Facebook

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