An angry pensioner who pointed a fake gun at a local warden who booked him for disposing improperly of a garbage bag, left behind by the refuse collector, has landed in double trouble with the law. 

A petty issue spiralled badly out of control when 63-year-old George Annati, a pensioner, lost his temper at the sight of the ticket slapped by two LESA community officials who were patrolling the area of his home in Paola. 

Earlier that morning, the wardens had approached the man after spotting him placing his bag of recyclable waste at the corner of a pavement further away from his home. 

When approached by the plain clothes officials, who were wearing their official tag and driving a duty vehicle, the man explained that the refuse collector had told him to place the garbage in that spot rather than next to his door. 

The wardens handed the pensioner a ticket which he promptly crushed, warning, “if it [the rubbish] is not collected, I’ll scatter it on the road”.

His prediction was fulfilled and the bag was left uncollected. 

Later that day, the two wardens returned to the street and noticed that the man, true to his word, had scattered the garbage all over the place.

Matters took a more serious turn when, after approaching the resident, he went indoors and suddenly returned with a "gun" which he pointed at the LESA officials. 

That weapon was later found to be fake, apparently kept handy by the man in case he needed it to scare away foreign intruders who roamed the area at night while he worked inside his garage, leaving the door open. 

The man was charged with possession of the imitation weapon, insulting and threatening the wardens and violent assault.

After consulting his lawyer, the accused pleaded guilty.

“Taken in a different context, the incident would have been rather comical but the petty issue escalated into something serious,” said prosecuting Inspector Paul Camilleri. 

Although it was a fake weapon, any ordinary person would not immediately realise that, unlike the accused who was an arms collector. 

The man should have resolved the issue with the wardens before the appropriate tribunal rather than take matters into his own hands.

Moreover, his reaction could have backfired badly if any other victim were to fire a real weapon, argued the inspector. 

“We ask the court to impose a punishment that sends out a message that such behaviour is not on,” stressed Camilleri.

Lawyer Ryan Ellul, appearing parte civile, pointed out that the wardens were doing their job.

“We cannot use a weapon to scare others,” said the lawyer, stressing the message that no one had a right to do so. 

Defence lawyer Josette Sultana countered that the accused had realised his mistake.

He was angry because, as he had explained earlier to the wardens, his rubbish would not be collected unless he put it on the corner. 

However, they still booked him.

“It’s true that they are doing their job but they must also understand citizens,” went on the lawyer, pointing out that the accused had collaborated.

The pensioner had an untainted criminal record and had never harmed anyone. 

Besides, he never intended to hurt the wardens, even if his reaction was somewhat excessive. 

After hearing submissions Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit said that judgment would be delivered at a later date. 

Meanwhile, the court upheld a request for bail against a personal guarantee of €10,000, signing the bail book three times a week and under a protection order in favour of the two victims and all LESA officials. 

Inspector Antonello Magri also prosecuted. 

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