Fresh developments in the case of 17-year-old Liam Debono who is being charged with the attempted murder of 48-year-old Police Constable Simon Schembri have shown in greater detail just what happened on the morning of May 15th in Luqa.
Both the accused and the accuser were together in court Thursday morning.
Schembri, who lost his arm battling severe injuries sustained after being dragged for 400 metres, gave an insight into his personal experience the morning his life changed forever.
1. Schembri had asked Debono: “Ħabib lanqas seatbelt m’għandek?” (“Not even a seatbelt, my friend?”)
Schembri had approached the car due to its dark tinted windows. He then saw Debono was not wearing a seatbelt and soon found out he had no licensed documentation on him.
The car’s number plate was also bent, and one window would not open.
2. Liam Debono told Schembri “U ajma, ħallini!” (“Come on, leave me alone!”) three times
Saying Debono was driving “as though he was sitting on a sofa”, he also noted how the young man had parked at an angle after he refused to park properly and avoid obstructing traffic.
3. Schembri was checking the car’s number plate and calling the control room when it began moving in his direction
The police officer was two or three metres to the left of the car’s mudguard at the time. He said he raised his arm to tell the driver to stop and shouted “Oi, x’qed tagħmel?” as the driver accelerated. He tried to grab onto a windshield wiper before becoming stuck under the front of the car.
“As I was raising my arm to warn him to stop, the Mercedes suddenly accelerated, hitting me. The impact was forceful enough to throw me onto bonnet,” he said.
There was also no revving or indication that the car was about to speed up.
4. He felt “indescribable” pain as he was dragged along, remaining conscious the entire time
“I saw the front tyre slightly raised. I was underneath and I was seeing everything, pulling in my legs. I was shouting: ‘Stop, stop! What have I done to you? You’re going to kill me!’ My body felt as though it was melting away; something terribly wrong was happening to me. All this flashed through my mind in those seconds. Suddenly I was flung out, landing face up. I couldn’t breathe. I concentrated solely on continuing to breathe. I knew that otherwise I would die,” he said in court.
A screenshot from CCTV footage showing the moment Schembri was flung out
5. When a colleague found him, Schembri asked him not to tell his wife
Schembri instructed the colleague to take photos, before being given a sedative and taken into an ambulance. He said he remembered asking why the ambulance driver was driving so fast.
“I closed my eyes. Someone grabbed my hand and I began to shout out in pain. It was indescribable. The pain couldn’t be put in words,” he said of the moment he was found.
6. Schembri was asked to take it easy as he testified in court
Magistrate Joe Mifsud offered the police constable a drink and a chair during his testimony as Schembri is still unable to stand up for extended lengths.
7. Liam Debono tried to formally apologise to Schembri during court
He stood up and said “I am sorry for you” before being cut off by the magistrate. His attempt at an apology was noted by the courts.
8. Anton Debono, the accused’s father, did not want to testify in court
Though he appeared in court, the accused’s father chose not the testify.
9. Dr Franco Debono, the accused’s lawyer, said his client needed guidance in life
Dr Debono said that his client should be provided with a probation officer who could testify in the next court sitting in regards to the granting of bail. If he was granted bail, he should also be given guidance.
Another witness, a police officer, also testified how he has inspected a garage where it was reported the accused lived and slept, but found no evidence of his living there.
10. During questioning, Schembri was repeatedly asked why he didn’t “step aside” by the accused’s lawyer
Schembri said that it all happened in a split second, and that his police motorcycle was directly behind him.
“An approaching car at a distance is one thing, a car so close is another. I would have been crazy to step in front of a two-tonne car,” Schembri said.
11. Dr France Debono pointed out how a witness said Schembri had voluntarily stepped in front of the car
Dr Debono maintained that if it results that Schembri was in front of the car and he didn’t move when he saw the car moving towards him, or, as the witness said, stepped in front of the car to stop it, it would change the nature of the incident.
The witness, who was a young commuter waiting on a nearby bus stop, had testified that Schembri stepped in front of the car when it began moving in an attempt to stop it: “Mar quddiem l-vettura biex iwaqqfu” (“He went in front of the vehicle to stop it”).