Man accused of punching wife in the face during argument over son's untidiness

Woman punched after intervening to protect son from husband

Court grants bail to man accused with domestic violence after punching wife
Court grants bail to man accused with domestic violence after punching wife

A man has been charged with grievously injuring his wife in a domestic altercation that left her needing a stitch to her eyelid.

The 52-year old Marsaskala resident was arraigned before Magistrate Josette Demicoli by Police Inspector Sherona Buhagiar, accused of grievously injuring the woman, as well as attacking and threatening her adult son.

The inspector explained how on 12 November the victims – the accused’s wife and her son – 

had gone to the police to file a domestic violence report. They said that the man and his non-biological son had had an argument over shoes being left in the corridor. Sometime later, when the son had gone to make up with him, the man had pointed a metal shovel at the boy’s neck.

The argument escalated to a point where the accused allegedly lifted the shovel above the son’s head, at which point the mother attempted to intervene, pushing the accused away. The court was told that the accused had then punched the woman in the face, causing a cut to her eyelid which required suturing and which left the white of her eyes bloodied.

Inspector Buhagiar explained that although a doctor had certified the injuries as slight, the charges related to grievous bodily harm as the law stipulates that injuries to the face are to be classified as grievous.

Defence lawyer Herman Mula asked the inspector whether the incident was a one-off, to which the inspector replied that the son claimed that a previous violent incident had taken place two years ago, although nobody was injured that time.

The accused, who told the court that he worked as a handyman, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Mula requested bail for his client.

The bail request was objected to by the prosecution, who pointed out that the alleged victims had not yet testified and that the accused could easily contact his wife while on bail.

“Unfortunately, the law does not lay down a threshold about whether to prosecute such cases under arrest or by summons. Normally, arrests are only made in cases of grievous bodily harm, although assault is an arrestable offence.”

The charges pressed cited a section of the Criminal Code that speaks of disability and disfigurement, pointed out the lawyer. “If you have a scratch or a bruise, it doesn’t mean you are disfigured. The decision to charge was premature. We are going to end up with the charges eventually being downgraded to slight but the accused would still have been held in prison and this prison time cannot be undone.”

The lawyer added that the accused’s 87-year-old mother was willing to let him reside at her home, which was also in Marsaskala, but not in the same area.

“There is evidently a grudge between the accused and the boy, but the injured party in this case is the woman who tried to intervene. It could well emerge at a later stage that the man’s disaffection with the son was justified,” the lawyer went on, also confirming that the woman had already released a statement to the police about the incident.

Inspector Buhagiar replied to these submissions, arguing that she could not determine the gravity of the injuries and a medical professional would have to be appointed to do so.

The court upheld the prosecution's request for a protection order in favour of the woman and son until final judgment is handed down.

The man was granted bail against a deposit of €1,000 and a personal guarantee of €8,000.

A ban on the publication of the parties’ names was also imposed.