Probation and deposit confiscation for 22-year-old synthetic drug addict who terrorised his family

The man used psychological and moral violence against his mother and young sister, threatened them with physical violence while breaching a previous court order

A court has placed a 22-year-old man from St. Julians under a 3-year probation and treatment order and confiscated his €11,000 bail deposit, after he was found to have forced his mother to buy drugs for him by threatening to harm his grandparents.

The man had used psychological and moral violence against his mother and young sister, threatened them with physical violence and breached a previous court order. His sister had chosen not to testify against the accused, leading to the charges involving her being dropped.

Drug addiction had been a part of the man’s life since he was 13 years old, the court was told.

Last October, the accused’s mother and sister had filed a police report, the mother telling officers that her son used synthetic drugs and would force her to take him to Marsa to buy the illicit substances every three hours. If she dared refuse, her son would turn violent, causing damage to her house and car.

The mother had testified, telling the court that the demands would even happen at night, with the accused threatening to go to his grandparents’ house to terrify them if she didn’t give him money to buy drugs.

In her police report, the accused’s sister had said that they would often lock the accused inside his bedroom, such was their fear of him.

Providentially, while the mother had been at the police station filing her report, the accused had called her up. The conversation was put on loudspeaker, allowing the police officers to hear the accused shouting and threatening his mother. The man was promptly arrested, and had exercised his right to silence during interrogation.

Although he refused to answer the police’s questions, the man had shown willingness to tackle his drug addiction problem.

In spite of everything, the man’s mother told the court that she wanted to help her son, who she said had lately become so aggressive that he had even broken his own bed. His addiction had deteriorated to the point where he was waking her up in the middle of the night to take him to Marsa, where he could buy more drugs.

He had never been physically violent towards her, she said, explaining that she was more upset at seeing him in this situation than scared of him. 

The mother said that she wanted to help him at all costs, telling the court that she had forgiven him and was prepared to take him back into her home, having seen how his behaviour had improved during the time he had spent in preventive custody.

His probation officer testified that it was too early to assess whether any progress had been made, also telling the court that the man apparently did not want to address the problem. He had been using drugs since he was 13 years old and had never tried to address his addiction. Everything pointed towards him not being ready to attend a residential drug rehabilitation program, she said.

Presiding magistrate Nadine Lia said that people like the accused should always be conscious of the fact that their family members can never be forced or feel obliged to drop charges relating to the harm they were allegedly subjected to.

The magistrate noted that the accused’s family were clearly heartbroken at his behaviour, a result of his drug habit and the difficulties that he found himself in. The family were also clearly willing to do their utmost to help him overcome his addictions.

“People like the accused must recognise that their family members are not going to be there forever and neither should they expect, as if by right, that if there is a criminal complaint or other proceedings, their family members will keep on choosing the road of forgiveness.”

Finding him guilty of using psychological and moral violence against his mother, causing her to fear that violence would be used against her and breaching a previous court order, the magistrate placed the man under probation and treatment orders for three years. Imposing a prison sentence would not have the desired result and would possibly make the situation worse, ruled the court, which also opted not to issue a restraining order in favour of the mother, in view of the fact that the accused would be residing with her.

Inspector Omar Zammit prosecuted.

Lawyer Francesca Zarb was defence counsel.