The Malta Independent 22 November 2019, Friday

Man who touched girl’s breast given conditional discharge

Friday, 1 June 2018, 14:15 Last update: about 2 years ago

A man’s romantic overtures to a French student have landed him in the dock accused of violent indecent assault, after they were not reciprocated.

Magistrate Gabriella Vella heard how a female French student, who had rented an apartment from a Maltese man, had an uncomfortable moment with her landlord who made a series of visits to the property while carrying out works on the ceiling of the apartment’s bedroom.

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On his last visit, the girl told police, the man had brought a bottle of wine and offered her a drink. Seeing the man acting with what was described as exaggerated magnanimity, the girl excused herself, saying she had to meet some friends.

The man told her that he “wanted to see her dance” and unspecified inappropriate words, before touching her breast and trying to kiss her.

The girl went with her friends to the police and filed a report.

The 44-year-old accused, a salesman, pleaded guilty to a charge of violent indecent assault.

On submissions on punishment, inspector Mark Mercieca, who prosecuted together with inspector Bernardette Valletta, said that no violence was used. “To be fair to everyone, I don’t think there should be an extravagant punishment,” he said.

Defence counsel Andy Ellul pointed out that the term violent indecent assault covers many acts and that the man’s conduct was on the extreme lower end of the spectrum.

“He had been welcoming and exchanged messages with her. They were having a bottle of wine, the atmosphere was a fun one. My client might have been misled and when he tried to get intimate, the woman backed off and left.

“The fact is that she gave him the impression that she wanted to have sex with him but when he tried to kiss her she felt offended and left.”

He asked for a conditional discharge. The victim was due to leave Malta today, he said. “He’s spent two days in detention already and had this is punishment enough,” said the lawyer.

The court said prison was not ideal in the circumstances and handed the man a 2 year conditional discharge, warning him that if he were to be convicted of another crime in the 2 year period, he could face up to 7 years prison for this charge.

He was also ordered not to contact or harass the girl for a year or pay a €1,000 penalty.

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