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29th July 2019, 18:00

Coroner returns verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Michael Montegriffo

The Coroner has returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Michael Montegriffo - a 58 year old who died in an incident in July last year. Mr Montegriffo was found in the area of Gavino’s Dwellings in Prince Edward's Road with multiple head injuries. On Monday the court heard confirmation these were the cause of his death.

It was an emotional hearing for parents of the deceased, who asked questions to a forensic pathologist, and senior investigating officer testifying, about the circumstances surrounding their son's death.

The pathologist said there was lacerations to Mr Montegriffo's head and bruising to the back of his hand. In his opinion, he said, Mr Montegriffo had suffered from the impact of a blunt object to the back of the head, at least four times. His hand injury was a defensive one, suspected to be the result of him trying to shield his head from whatever was impacting it. Studies showed the injuries had damaged the wiring of his brain.

Chief Inspector Roy Perez - the senior investigating officer on the case - spoke of the day in question, where a 'sudden death' was called in.

Mr Montegriffo was found by the wall with multiple head injuries and pronounced dead upon arrival in hospital.

Chief Inspector Perez told the court the ambulance officials suspected the man had fallen or jumped, as the window above where he was found was open.

However, video footage of the incident showed the body to be lying next to the wall. Mr Perez said that if someone were to jump, their weight would push them away from the wall. Authorities forced entry into the home above, and found no trace of a disturbance, concluding that the incident was a homicide.

Despite the area being cordoned off, Mr Perez said that wall was not examined because the blood on it had been washed away. Asked by Mr Montegriffo's mother why this happened, the senior officer said it wouldn't have had, if the correct conclusion had been drawn earlier. Sobbing, she said this was a shame. Adding that the incident had occurred on her wedding anniversary.

The Coroner, Charles Pitto returned a verdict of unlawful killing and ruled the cause of death as a severe head injury due to an assault at Gavino’s Dwellings in Price Edwards Road with multiple blows to the head. The Coroner said he hoped for further light to be shone on the case in due course.

Investigations are still ongoing and the police as well the man's parents, urge anyone with information to get in contact.

A £25,000 reward is offered by the Royal Gibraltar Police for information relating to the murder.