A man, found guilty of assaulting two Transport Malta officials on duty at the Nadur Carnival last year, was jailed and fined by a court that declared that such an attack on a public officer was “an attack against society as a whole”.

Clyde Farrugia was tracked down as the balaclava-clad suspect who had crept up behind the two officers on Triq il-Paljijiet in the early hours of the morning on February 23, 2020, swinging one of them by the shoulder before punching him straight in the face. 

Shortly before that incident, the two officials had been approached by a man who rudely complained about a parking ticket he had found affixed to his car. 

Venting his anger, the man had popped the ticket into his mouth, chewed it and spat it out, before marching off down the road.

The officers ignored the incident and went about their way, directing the heavy flow of traffic in the area. 

But as they were heading back up the road, they were suddenly assaulted by the masked aggressor.

One of the officers was momentarily stunned by a blow on the face as his colleague promptly stepped in to break up the assault.

He succeeded in pulling off the aggressor’s face mask but also suffered slight injuries in the incident, while the suspect got into the car and drove off.

Police later discovered that the car linked to the traffic contravention was being used by three people.

They managed to track down the registered owner who, however, did not supply information about the aggressor. 

CCTV footage, though not very clear, showed Farrugia as the one who had assaulted the transport officials, although he denied the accusations.

The suspect was charged with violently assaulting the victims in the course of duty, insulting and threatening them, grievously injuring one of the officers and slightly injuring the other one as well as disturbing the repose of residents at nighttime.

Faced with two conflicting versions, the court concluded that it did not slightly hesitate in believing the version of the victims while completely excluding that of the accused.

The court, presided by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, observed that the officials were always consistent when describing the dynamics of the incident and their testimony was supported by the footage. 

On the other hand, the accused version was marked by inconsistencies.

There was no evidence that he had stepped in to assist his friend, nor had he reported the incident or sought medical help for the injuries he claimed to have suffered. 

All officers enforcing public order were to be protected and no threats or insults could be excused, observed Mifsud, pointing out that, in this case, it was the accused who had sparked the tension. 

An attack against a public officer was an “attack against society as a whole”, said the court, declaring the accused guilty and condemning him to a three-year jail term and a €4,000 fine. 

The accused was cleared of the first charge since the assault did not happen while the victims were carrying out any order in terms of law. He was also cleared of the nighttime disturbance since the relative provision of law was not indicated in the note of referral by the attorney general.

Inspector Bernard Charles Spiteri prosecuted. 

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