The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Man harassed, stalked former classmate after school reunion

Thursday, 28 March 2024, 17:43 Last update: about 17 days ago

A man has been remanded in custody after being accused of subjecting a former primary school classmate of his, to months of harassment and stalking, following a brief online reunion.

The 30-year-old defendant, a truck driver from Santa Venera, wept bitterly in the dock when his lawyer told the court that he needed treatment for psychiatric problems and that holding him at the Corradino Correctional Facility was not ideal.

When Inspector Clayton Camilleri arraigned the man before Magistrate Ian Farrugia on Thursday, he said that not long after the defendant had re-established contact with the woman through social media, she had blocked him.

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In spite of this, over the past few months the man had continued to follow the woman around, also making a number of unwanted phone calls to her and leaving gifts on the doorstep of the woman's home.

The victim had explained that although there had been a little initial interaction between them on social media, she had decided to cut off all contact and had blocked him, the court heard.

Undeterred by this, the defendant had continued to seek her out in other ways, his behaviour escalating to the point where he would pass by her house up to three times a day and had even left her a gift, the court heard.

Receiving a present from her unwanted suitor was what led the woman to report him to the police, who had then spoken to the defendant. The harassment stopped for a short while after that, but the man had soon reverted to his obsessive behaviour, the court was told.

The charges filed against the defendant include stalking the woman, causing her to fear that he would be violent towards her, causing her alarm, fear of grievous physical or psychological harm, as well as harassing her with offensive words and gestures which had sexual connotations.

Inspector Camilleri exhibited the defendant's mobile phone, which he said, had been used to carry out some of the offences.

The court upheld a request for a protection order in favour of the woman and her family.

The defence's request for bail was rejected by the court, after intense opposition by the prosecution to the man's release.

Defence lawyer Ingrid Zammit Young told the court that reading the man's statement would provide greater clarity. The defendant's place was not in prison, because his problems were psychiatric in nature, argued the lawyer, adding that were he to be ordered not to speak to the alleged victim, he would obey. The man needed treatment, not imprisonment, said the lawyer.

The man in the dock broke down in tears at that point, promising that he would not approach or speak to the woman.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia agreed that the man's statement gave a good indication of what sort of help the man required. Inspector Camilleri submitted that this treatment could be administered while the man was being held in custody.

The request for bail was denied because the alleged victim and her family had not yet testified and due to the risk of evidence being lost or witnesses suborned.

Furthermore, the circumstances of the case did not inspire confidence on the part of the court that the incidents would not be repeated, said the magistrate.

Inspector Clayton Camilleri is prosecuting, assisted by lawyer Jurgen Dalli from the Office of the Attorney General. Lawyer Ingrid Zammit Young is assisting the defendant as legal aid counsel.

Lawyer Sarah Mifsud appeared for the alleged victim as parte civile.

 


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