Police press harassment charges against man who phoned estranged wife 300 times in 13 days

A man who made hundreds of phone calls to his estranged wife in the space of a few days has been remanded in custody on harassment charges

A man who made hundreds of phone calls to his estranged wife in the space of a few days has been remanded in custody on harassment charges.

In an arraignment before magistrate Monica Vella this afternoon, Inspector Eman Hayman charged the 44-year-old Mtarfa man with repeatedly harassing his wife, stalking her and threatening her using electronic communications equipment.

The court ordered a ban on the publication of the names of the parties involved, after a joint request to this effect was made by the parties.

Defence lawyer Patrick Valentino informed the court that he was contesting the validity of the arrest. The magistrate asked Inspector Hayman to explain what had led to the man being taken into custody.

Hayman told the court that on 20 February this year, the police had received a report by the man’s wife, who explained that she had recently left the matrimonial home and didn’t want to return, as her relationship with the accused was over. The woman told the police that the accused had been phoning her “constantly” between 6 and 19 February, badgering her to meet him for a coffee.

When she had finally acquiesced and agreed to meet the accused, he ended up taking her to a place different to that agreed upon and had started drinking alcohol, said the inspector. Afterwards, he had taken her to an isolated place and tried to begin intimate contact, but the woman had refused his advances.

When called in for questioning, the accused had admitted to having called the woman “some times,” Hayman said. The inspector told the court that data provided from service providers showed that 300 calls to the woman’s number had been placed by the accused in 13 days, using three different providers.

The woman, who worked at a salon, had also reported seeing the accused in front of her workplace “all the time,” added the prosecution.

The decision was taken to arrest the accused, said the inspector, adding that the man had first denied walking in front of the salon but later gave the police information about its opening hours.

Valentino pointed out that the accused was still married to the alleged victim and that the complaint was solely about repeated and excessive phone calls. “There was also stalking,” added the inspector.

Answering a question by the defence, the inspector confirmed that the woman had been treated for drug addiction in the past, but insisted that “her problem is that her husband wouldn’t leave her alone.”

The defence suggested that the woman had also contacted the accused and asked him to bring her supplies for the beauty salon, also pointing out that the woman had lost legal custody of her 16-year-old daughter.

“This arrest is not valid; the person has problems, they are married and have been debating on whether to separate for two years, her own daughter and mother do not speak to her. If her husband called her 20,000 times because he was worried about her, granted the charges could subsist, but the arrest is not justified,” submitted Valentino.

Inspector Hayman claimed that the total amount of calls were “innumerable,” arguing that the man’s behaviour “went beyond a simple concern about his wife’s wellbeing.”

Magistrate Vella noted that the charges dealt with harassment. After hearing the prosecuting officer declare that there had been approximately 300 phone calls in a very short period of time, she declared the arrest to be valid. 

Despite the defence’s claim that the calls had been a genuine effort by the accused to help his wife, the court ruled that the sheer amount of phone calls could be taken as being unjustified. 

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His lawyer asked for bail, with the prosecution objecting due to fear of the accused tampering with evidence. Valentino submitted that the evidence, in this case, consisted of service provider data, which had already been collected and the victim’s testimony. Obviously, the accused would not be allowed to approach the witness, he said.

The police had also already seized the woman’s phone as evidence, the court was told.

The magistrate also heard inspector Hayman confirm, for the purposes of bail, that the woman had left the matrimonial home. Valentino submitted that she had gone to live in another town and, therefore, the accused could reside in the matrimonial home whilst on bail.

The court, however, denied the request for the man’s release and ordered him to be remanded in custody, urging the prosecution to summon the man’s wife to testify at the next sitting.