A man who was found guilty of assaulting two Transport Malta officials at the Nadur Carnival two years ago has been spared an effective jail term by a court that, nonetheless, condemned “bullying attitudes” towards public officers.

Clyde Farrugia, 24, had landed a three-year effective jail term and a €4,000 fine last October after being convicted of assaulting the two officers, grievously injuring one of them and slightly injuring the other on February 23, 2020.

The officers were walking down Triq il-Paljijiet, Nadur when an angry driver walked up to them, rudely complaining about a parking ticket which he popped into his mouth and spat out, before stomping away to his car.

Shortly after, the two officers were assaulted by a masked aggressor who managed to get away.

CCTV footage led investigators to the accused who, however, gave a different version of the incident, insisting he had only stepped in to break up a fight involving the officers and a group of people.

Farrugia said he had fought back to defend himself, not knowing whom he had hit and pointing out that he had suffered a bloodied face.

In fact, the taller of the TM officials had grabbed him by the sweater and punched him in the face, he insisted.

The officers, however, said the masked aggressor had approached them from the back and punched one of them in the face.

The other officer stepped in to pull the aggressor away.

A court expert tasked with analysing the footage confirmed that the persons seen in the film had their backs to the camera that was quite a distance away and so were not identifiable.

Whilst observing that the footage was not clear, the court of appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, said that the victims’ version was more credible than that of the accused and two other men at the scene who each supplied conflicting testimonies.

Although confirming the conviction, the court deemed that the punishment meted out by the first court ought to be reduced.

Considering the age and criminal record of the appellant, the court deemed that detention would be “excessive.”

While condemning “bullying attitudes towards public officers,” the court upheld the appeal and converted the three-year jail term and fine to a two-year term suspended for four years.

The court also ordered the appellant to pay €956 in court expenses.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb assisted the accused at appeal stage.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us