An 87-year-old man put a double-barrelled gun against his neighbour's forehead for parking in a spot the elderly man considered his own private parking space, a court has heard.

Stephen Mike Cauchi, from Xewkija, recounted on Wednesday how he only managed to avoid being shot in the head because he ducked an instant before the shot was fired. 

He was testifying in the compilation of evidence against Paolo Mercieca, also from Xewkija, who denies the attempted murder of his neighbour after he opened fire during an argument in Triq is-Salib at around 10am on October 7.

Mr Mercieca is also charged with slightly injuring the victim and of being in unlicensed possession of a firearm.

Magistrate Joseph Mifsud heard Mr Cauchi explain how his mother had called him to move the car because she had heard Mr Mercieca causing a commotion outside the house. She also filmed him smashing the passenger window of their Fiat 127. 

Mr Cauchi said he called the police and was told to go to the police station to file a report, which he did.

The police then called in Mr Mercieca for questioning and he turned up at the station after a few minutes. The two continued to argue and at one point Mr Cauchi said Mr Mercieca threatened him, saying that thanks to him he was going to have to do something that landed him in hot water. 

The police asked Mr Mercieca whether he was going to settle the damages directly or else go to court. He told the police to take him to court and left the police station. 

Mr Cauchi said he told the police he did not want to proceed with a court case because he had a good relationship with Mr Mercieca and his family and they were neighbours. 

“I left the police station and went to move the car because it looked like it was going to rain. When I got there, he was outside his residence and told me ‘Come let me show you how we’re going to come to an agreement’. I thought he wanted to apologise because he was very calm. But he walked to his house, opened the front door and grabbed a shotgun. I was just behind him. He turned and put the double-barrelled gun against my forehead,” he told the court. 

I ducked as the shot was fired. I knew there were two cartridges so I grabbed the shotgun and tried taking it from him

He continued: “I tried not to panic even though I saw him becoming agitated but then I saw his finger fiddling with the trigger so I ducked as the shot was fired. I knew there were two cartridges so I grabbed the shotgun and tried taking it from him. We ended up over each other but I finally managed to take it. I hit him in the chin with the butt of the shotgun to get him off me and it worked as he fell to the ground unconscious.”

He said that by that time neighbours came out to the street and saw him holding the shotgun so he told them it was Paolo who had fired the shot and Mr Mercieca’s brother took the shotgun and placed it inside. 

Magistrate Mifsud denied the request for bail but Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja, presiding over the Court of Criminal Appeal, granted Mr Mercieca bail after his daughter stood in as a third-party guarantee for her elderly father. He was ordered to pay a deposit of €8,000 and a personal guarantee of €12,000. 
 
Inspector Bernard Spiteri prosecuted while lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri appeared for the accused. 

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