Son accused of threatening father who begged him to address his drug addiction

A father who repeatedly pleaded with his son to address his drug addiction allegedly ended up seeking the assistance of the police after being threatened by him

File photo
File photo

A father who repeatedly pleaded with his son to address his drug addiction allegedly ended up seeking the assistance of the police after being threatened by him, a court was told on Tuesday.

Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo presided this afternoon’s arraignment of a 39-year-old man from Siggiewi on charges of having harassed and threatened his father.

The accused, whose name is subject to a reporting ban, operates a quarry which had been given to him by his father.

Prosecuting police inspector Colin Sheldon told the court that on 9 January, the accused’s father had filed a police report about his son at the Domestic Violence Unit. That morning, the father had gone to the accused’s residence and found the man asleep in the bathtub.

When the accused had eventually opened his eyes, he had threatened to blow his father’s head off, explained the inspector. Later that day, the accused had gone to the father’s quarry, where the father told him that he was tired of this treatment.  At that point, the accused’s threat was repeated, said the inspector.

After a risk assessment found the father to be at high risk of violence, an arrest warrant was issued. The 39-year-old was taken into police custody and refused to answer any questions, the inspector added.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono pointed out that the alleged incident had occurred over a month ago, saying that it pointed to a need for guidelines on arraigning suspects to be created. “We have this procedure of justifying the arrest, but we need to distinguish between the arrest and the arraignment under arrest. If you fail to give particulars to a policeman, you can be arrested, but should you be arraigned under arrest for this minor contravention?” asked the lawyer. “Today the situation is that one can be charged by summons for a grave offence and arraigned under arrest for a minor one.” 

A judicial pronouncement on the matter was needed, Debono concluded.

Inspector Sheldon pointed to the fact that the offence had been committed while the accused was a recidivist who had already been placed under a suspended sentence, explaining that these were the main issues militating against bail.

The accused man entered a plea of not guilty. His lawyers requested bail.

The prosecution objected to his release, arguing that the case dealt with a family issue which could lead to repercussions before the victim took the witness stand. Tampering with evidence was a possibility, said the inspector.

Debono submitted that the man’s father had already lived in a separate house, having moved away because of problems with the mother, not the accused. Had there been any intention to approach or tamper with evidence, it would have taken place in the month since the incident took place, said the lawyer, accusing the prosecution of contradicting itself.

The Court pointed out that the accused’s criminal record posed a more pressing problem. The defence argued that this was not so, because the accused’s previous convictions did not involve offences against his father.

The prosecution suggested that a protection order be issued should bail be granted.
The accused was released on bail secured by a €2,000 deposit and €30,000 personal guarantee. He was ordered to sign a bail book three times a week. A protection order in favour of the father was also issued.
Inspector Colin Sheldon is prosecuting.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb are defence counsel.