Convict ‘lied’ about magistrate to save relationship

He had said he was working for Joe Mifsud, who had found him guilty

Magistrate Joe MifsudMagistrate Joe Mifsud

A man who claimed of having served part of a court sentence doing community work for the same magistrate who had found him guilty, has retracted the allegation saying it was a “lie” he had fabricated to save his relationship with his second wife.

Anthony Fenech, who in July 2016 had been found guilty of being in possession of stolen goods, made the admission yesterday when testifying at the Gozo court before Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri.

His testimony was heard during proceedings related to an appeal filed by the Attorney General’s Office which is seeking a conviction of theft that carries a harsher sentence.

In November, The Sunday Times of Malta reported that Lief Ahlstrom – a Swedish citizen resident in Gozo whose apartment had been allegedly burgled by the accused – told the court that the defendant had served part of his sentence doing community work tiling Magistrate Joe Mifsud’s flat in Għajnsielem.

The witness based his claim on the account given to him by Mr Fenech’s second wife. The woman had shown him a screenshot of an SMS sent to her by the accused which read:

“I am doing some tiles 4 Joe Mifsud. And I told him about Louise [his first wife] and not seeing Kylie [his 17-year-old daughter he had fathered from her]. He told me if [she’s] being out of hand he can give me [full] custody. I told him there no need 4 now.”

Mr Ahlstrom also claimed the magistrate and Mr Fenech lived in the same road.

Furthermore, he said the defendant’s second wife told him that Mr Fenech would only serve half of the hours of community work ordered by the court, after he had spoken with Dr Mifsud.

In view of this, it was agreed that both the accused and Dr Mifsud should be summoned to testify.

Mr Fenech, who was first to take the witness stand, immediately admitted that the contents of the SMS were false.

I admit I did a mistake by bluffing my way

“I never spoke to the magistrate neither in court nor outside of it, except once when I saluted him,” he said.

Mr Fenech said that following his conviction he had been ordered to do community work within the same block of apartments where Dr Mifsud lives, but in a flat belonging to the Arka Foundation.

“At the time I was having trouble over the custody of my daughter with my first wife, and I feared this would derail the relationship with my second wife,” Mr Fenech said.

“I admit I did a mistake by bluffing my way… telling her I had spoken to Dr Mifsud on the matter. My intention was to save the relationship,” he said.

“I am very sad for Dr Mifsud who has nothing to do with this,” he added.

On his part, the magistrate who looked very emotional, insisted that suchclaims about him were only meant to destroy his reputation.

Dr Mifsud said he had bought his flat in a finished state in 2007, and so there was no need for tiling works. Furthermore, when he had become magistrate in 2015, he had been assigned the case involving the accused, which was already underway.

“The accused had not testified before me, but before previous magistrate,” he told the court.

Asked whether he ever met Mr Fenech, Dr Mifsud said the only time was when the accused told him “thank you” while buying a newspaper.

“While I could not understand why he had told me such thing, I replied by appealing to him to take care of himself and keep away from trouble,” he said.

Dr Mifsud said following the story in The Sunday Times of Malta, he had urged the Commission for the Administration of Justice to open an investigation as he had nothing to fear.

The magistrate also presented a statement by the Arka Foundation director saying the accused had never worked in his flat.

Moreover, the decision to assign Mr Fenech with the NGO was not taken by him but the probation officer.

Lawyer Elaine Mercieca appeared for the Attorney General’s office while lawyer Joshua Grech was defence counsel for Mr Fenech.

The case continues on March 2.