Police officer tells of moment aggressor flung his car door open and launched brutal attack
A police officer recounted yesterday how a road rage aggressor had pulled his car door open and lunged at him, punching him with both fists until he had almost lost consciousness.
PC Christian Agius was giving evidence against Angel Attard, 40, from Vittoriosa, who stands charged over the 3 January assault against the off-duty officer. The incident took place in St Julian’s. PC Agius suffered a broken arm and permanent disfigurement to his face.
Last week a court heard how Mr Attard, who practises marital arts, has a history of road rage incidents and has served time in prison. The police officers said he was going clothes shopping in Sliema with his girlfriend. He entered the Paceville tunnels, driving on the fast lane. “I saw this car tailgating us. He was so close I could not see the number plate.”
As soon as he left the tunnel he switched to the inner lane but the car followed suit. “He was coming at us at high speed. I thought he was coming for satisfaction.
“We stopped in traffic and suddenly I heard my door opening and a fist came flying through the door and into my face. I asked what he was doing, and told him I was a police officer but he said he did not care (in rather colourful Maltese language) and kept hitting me.”
PC Agius said he could hardly move because his seatbelt was still fastened. “I tried to block his punches with my hands. Eventually I undid my seatbelt but he came towards me, knee on the driver’s seat, and kept on punching. My girlfriend was trying to help me. I had blood streaming down my face and I almost lost consciousness.”
Finally the aggressor let go and stepped out of the car. “I followed him outside because I thought he was going to get something out of his car. I asked him why he had assaulted me and he said that I had almost hit his car earlier.” PC Agius said the accused ignored orders to stop and sped off.
The witness said the incident left him needing stitches above and below his right eye. He is also waiting for an operation to fix his broken nose. The constable also suffered a broken finger and a torn tendon which, doctors told him, could never fully heal.
The witness said he lost some feeling in his mouth “I had another appointment yesterday, a week after the incident and I still have no sensation in my mouth.”
Questioned by his lawyer, Dr Arthur Azzopardi, PC Agius said he had not made any gestures or offended the accused.
Lawyer Franco Debono, who is appearing for the accused, also asked the witness whether he had given the accused the middle finger. “No, not true,” the witness replied.
Dr Debono suggested that the witness had only stated he was a police officer to stop the beating. He also asked why he had stopped his car, to which the police officer replied that a van was stopped in front of him. He denied having stopped to confront the accused.
The lawyer then suggested that the witness had changed lanes dangerously but thought nothing of it because he was a police officer.
The victim’s girlfriend, Emily Piscopo, also testified. She confirmed that the accused was tailgating their car through the tunnels. Nearing the exit, PC Agius flicked the indicator and, once out of the tunnel he switched to the slow lane. They stopped behind a white van and at this point the accused opened Christian’s door and, in a split second, punched him on the nose.
The witness said she was holding her boyfriend’s face in an attempt to deflect the blows but the onslaught lasted for around three minutes.
When Christian and the aggressor stepped out of the car she stayed put. “I was in shock. My coat was covered in blood.” Ms Piscopo said she is still receiving treatment as a result of the trauma.
The case is being presided over by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech. Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are appearing for the accused. Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi is appearing for PC Agius. Inspector Matthew Spagnol prosecuted.