FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7: A trucker called Health Minister Zane DeSilva a liar and a thief and threatened to kill him in a row over allegations about the illegal use of dumpster trucks, a court heard today.
Mr DeSilva told Magistrates’ Court that Richard Foggo threatened him in the grounds of Cabinet Office and that he feared for his safety.
Mr De Silva said: “He put his finger in my face — he didn’t hit me, didn’t touch me and said he’d kill me. He just continued on to say I’ll get what I deserve.
“At that stage — and I’ve been around the block a bit — he was very agitated. His body language was such that I felt he would take a swing at any time.
“I then went into Cabinet Office and asked the receptionist to call the police. I felt quite threatened that he was going to attack me.”
Magistrate Juan Wolffe was told that trucker Richard Foggo approached Mr DeSilva as he sat in his car in the grounds of Cabinet Office and launched into a tirade of abuse over allegations of illegal use of dumpster trucks.
Mr Foggo, 51, of Hamilton Parish, was charged with using threatening behaviour and words towards Mr DeSilva on August 2 this year. He denied both charges.
Defence counsel Richard Horseman asked Mr DeSilva if was not the case that Mr Foggo was trying to give him TCD papers connected with an investigation into illegal trucking — and said his client denied issuing a death threat.
Mr De Silva said: “That’s not correct — he never showed me any papers. He was rambling on about me causing him loss of business and said something about his father’s death. It was a ranting and raving bunch of statements.
“I put it to you that he definitely said ‘I am going to kill you’.”
Mr DeSilva, who told the court that Mr Foggo had received a lawyer’s letter warning him not to contact him, denied that he had refused to speak to Mr Foggo.
He said: “I rolled the car window down… I could have easily had a very cordial conversation with him.”
Mr Foggo told the court he was the president of the Truckers’ Association and had gone to Cabinet Office to discuss alleged illegal trucking with Attorney General Michael Scott when he noticed Mr DeSilva in a car parked outside the building.
Mr Foggo claimed: “Mr DeSilva is one of the main leaders of this operation of illegal dumpsters. He has two of them, to the best of my knowledge.
“I tapped on the glass to let him know ‘I want to speak to you.’ He wound his window down. I asked Mr DeSilva why he continued to operate illegal dumpsters on the island. I stated clearly that this operation is illegal.”
He added: “He was sitting with a smirk on his face.”
Mr Foggo said he tried to show him documentation connected with the allegations of illegal trucking, but Mr DeSilva wound the car window up and got out the car.
He admitted accusing Mr DeSilva of being responsible for the death of Mr Foggo’s father and of accusing the minister of “lying and stealing”.
Mr Foggo claimed: “At that point, Mr DeSilva turned towards me and it appeared to me Mr DeSilva was going to launch towards me, so I just stepped back a bit and put my finger up. Mr DeSilva said to get my finger out of his face. I thought Mr DeSilva was going to attack me.
“I said to Mr DeSilva ‘if you put your hands on me I’ll put my finger up your f***ing a**.”
Mr Foggo added that Mr DeSilva said he wasn’t going to hit him, but said he would be calling police and walked inside Cabinet Office.
Mr Foggo said: “When he said he was going to call the police, I knew that what he said he was going to do was going to be done — that the police would come and arrest me. I didn’t think that was right. I never went there for that and that made me a little angry and upset, to be honest.”
But he denied suggestions by Crown Counsel Geoffrey Faiella that he had lost his temper when he saw Mr DeSilva and seized the opportunity to have a go at him.
Mr Horseman told Mr Wolffe that others were present at the time of the alleged offence, but that no other witnesses had been called.
He added: “Mr DeSilva may be a minister, he may be a politician, but that doesn’t make his word any better than anyone else’s. Mr Foggo was exercising his right to freedom of expression. Particularly if you’re a minister, you might have to listen to things you don’t want to hear.”
Mr Horseman added that Mr Foggo had only said he would defend himself if Mr DeSilva hit him — which was not a threat.
Mr Wolffe adjourned the case until October 13 and Mr Foggo was released on bail.