Father admits to threatening ex-partner with knife after being denied access to his children

Restraining order imposed and a suspended sentence issued to the 28-year-old man from Valletta

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A 28-year-old man from Valletta appeared before magistrate Rachel Montebello accused of harassing and threatening the mother of his child with a knife on 3 January.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello heard Police Inspector Eman Hayman give the background to the case. The couple’s relationship had ended some time ago but there were recurring problems with regards to maintenance and the father’s access to the children. There were attempts to resolve it but they had been unsuccessful, Hayman said.

On the date in question, the accused had called up his children’s mother and threatened her, he said. She had called the police, telling them that she was together with her new partner and that the accused was outside, ringing the doorbell with a knife in his hand.

Hayman said the accused would use threats in an attempt to subdue his ex-partner. The police had received previous reports, albeit of less severity, regarding the parties, he added.

The court addressed the accused, telling him that the charges were serious in nature and that he had the right to remain silent.

The prosecution exhibited a CCTV video related to the incident, although its relevance was not immediately clear.

The accused, who told the court that he was a chef, pleaded guilty.

His defence lawyer, Jean Carl Abela, addressed the court explaining that this was not the first time that his client had gone to visit his children after work and had been refused access. The woman had demanded the accused give her €400 in maintenance allegedly owed, before he would be allowed to see them, said the lawyer.

“He was doing his duty as a father to visit his children,” submitted Abela. On the knife, the lawyer explained that the man worked as a chef and carried the knife on him to and from his work. He denied that his client wanted to frighten or intimidate the woman. “It was a coincidence,” he said, suggesting mediation to avoid further deterioration of the situation.

“He wants this chapter to close, he wants to be there for his children.”

Inspector Eman Hayman told the court that the accused had cooperated completely from the very beginning of the investigation and had accepted that his behaviour was not correct.

“He worked long hours and often was unable to see his children. It was clear that in this case, anger management guidance should be imposed on the accused,” said the inspector

The knife was found in his bag, clarified the inspector, adding however that the man had confirmed in his statement that he had wanted to scare the woman with it. The prosecution submitted that prison was not the ideal punishment in this case, but insisted that the accused clearly needed help.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello, after noting the man’s guilty plea and the circumstances of the case, handed down a sentence of two years imprisonment, suspended for three years, pointing out that there were several aggravations to the charges. A restraining order was also issued, with the court explaining that communications regarding the children was to take place through the lawyers.

He was fined €200 for carrying the knife in public without a permit. The court also ordered the destruction of the knife.

“The suspended sentence is…because the charges are serious. The punishment increases because the victim is the mother of your children and so this is the minimum the court could impose,” the court said, addressing the accused. “If you commit another crime during the next three years you will be jailed,” warned the magistrate.

A restraining order was imposed for the period of one year, with the court warning him that breaching it was a crime in itself, punishable by imprisonment and a €7000 fine.