A man charged with setting his car on fire to benefit from an insurance claim, was acquitted since the prosecution’s case had rested entirely upon the  “assumptions and speculations” of a court-appointed expert.

Aldo Bajada, 40, had turned up one morning in September 2012 at the Naxxar police station to report that his Land Rover Freelander had been damaged in a fire.

A magisterial inquiry had kicked off into the suspected arson, with a number of experts called in to determine the dynamics and cause of the fire.

Among these was one expert who came forward with several “assumptions and speculations” borne out of a discussion which he had conducted with the owner of the vehicle during the on-site inspection.

On the basis of these conclusions, the police had pressed charges against the owner for reporting a crime that had not taken place, setting his car on fire to claim insurance money and also for being a recidivist.

In the course of the proceedings, the dynamics of the alleged arson, as determined by the expert, appeared to indicate that the perpetrator had opened the driver’s door, scattered flammable liquid onto the car seats and then set it alight with a burning paper.

The fire spread quickly but the blaze had been extinguished within minutes once the oxygen inside the closed vehicle had burnt out, the expert had reported, concluding that the perpetrator must have been no expert since otherwise he would have left the door open to stoke the fire.

The court, presided over by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, pointed out various shortcomings by the prosecution in proving its case.

A chemical expert had concluded that there were “no traces of fuel” or other flammable liquid.

On the basis of all evidence, the court could find nothing linking the accused to the alleged arson, adding that the cause of the fire had not been proved in any way.

Lawyer Joe Giglio was defence counsel.