The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Man fined for contempt of court after reacting discourteously to a magistrate

Wednesday, 10 June 2020, 12:19 Last update: about 2 months ago

A man from Cospicua has been fined for contempt of court after reacting discourteously to a magistrate who remanded him in custody on theft charges.

Michael Azzopardi, 38, appeared in court after he was arrested next to a car with a smashed window in Qormi yesterday afternoon. Items which had been inside the car were found in his possession.

Inspector Roderick Agius told magistrate Joe Mifsud that two plainclothes police officers had spotted Azzopardi kneeling next to a car with a smashed window. He was subsequently arrested by officers from the Qormi police station and searched. A pair of sunglasses and some unique coins were found in his possession.

ADVERTISEMENT

The victim had recognised the coins, Inspector Agius said.

Azzopardi's legal aid lawyer, Raisa Colombo, entered a plea of not guilty and requested bail.

The prosecution objected to bail, explaining that there was an eyewitness who was very important to the proceedings who was yet to testify. Another point was the untrustworthiness of the accused. "Yesterday he told the police that he had 'reached a stage where he needed to commit a hold up and not just these silly things,'" Agius said.

The inspector had explained to the court that Azzopardi, who has a drug problem, could be helped. "But he finds it difficult to use the help he's given. He needs structure and discipline."

Colombo argued for bail, reminding the court that the man was Maltese, presumed innocent, had a fixed abode and that there was only one witness who could easily be protected. "Just because he has previous convictions doesn't mean that he should not be allowed bail."

The court said that it disagreed with the defence. "Whoever has a problem in his life must seek help and not let the problem get out of hand or take to the road of criminality. This court must balance the rights of the accused and the society. It is pains me to see that although our courts protect the rights of the accused, as they should, you have people who still choose to break the law and disregard the direction given by the courts to the same individuals who need help."

Society must be protected, said the magistrate, noting the trauma suffered by the victims of the thefts, saying that this is often forgotten. "The time has come for all of society to be protected without distinction, age or race," said the magistrate, denying the man bail.

As Azzopardi was led out of the courtroom, he was seen to make remarks under his breath, complaining about the magistrate's decision. Magistrate Mifsud, having warned the man, in vain, to keep his views to himself now that the sitting had ended, ordered him back into the courtroom and fined him €200 for contempt of court.

  • don't miss