No punishment for Hamrun man who used metal rod to defend himself in family fight

Court rules although the accused had assaulted and slightly injured his former partner and her boyfriend with a metal rod, he had done so while attempting to defend himself and his elderly father

File photo
File photo

A court has fined a man €58 for a breach of the peace, ruling that although he had assaulted and slightly injured his former partner and her boyfriend with a metal rod he had done so while attempting to defend himself and his elderly father.

The 33-year-old man from Hamrun had been charged with several offences in connection with the 2020 altercation, which had taken place in the street outside his residence.

The incident had taken place after the 33-year-old defendant and his ex-partner had argued about their children over the phone, during the course of which he had threatened to “wring her and her boyfriend’s neck.”  The boyfriend had answered her phone when the accused had next called, inviting him to say where he was so he could go there and show him who’s boss.

The defendant had replied that he was in Hamrun, telling the boyfriend to “come here if you like”, which he did.

The defendant, who had already called the Hamrun police station to ask for assistance, rushed in front of the 73-year-old and was challenged to fight by his ex-partner’s boyfriend.
The accused had pushed the man to defend his father and a fight ensued, in which the woman also took an active part, pulling the defendant’s hair to distract him while her boyfriend threw punches at him. The defendant had pushed the woman to the ground before punching her boyfriend, the court was told. The woman had then stood up and resumed her attack while her boyfriend returned to his car, promising to return with his family to beat them up.

Deciding the case, Magistrate Rachel Montebello observed that the accounts given in the defendant's statement as well as his sworn testimony, that of his father and brother had all agreed that it was the woman’s boyfriend who had first attempted to confront the defendant’s father and was going to assault him, before turning his attention towards the defendant.

On the other hand, the inconsistent versions of events initially given by the woman and her boyfriend, which were contradictory in several key details about the dynamics of the incident, did not convince the court.

The court said its conviction that the defendant had not intended to challenge the boyfriend to fight was strengthened by the fact that when the defendant saw that the police officers who had arrived at his house had to leave the scene before the arrival of the ex-partner and her boyfriend, the accused's father had called the Hamrun police station, asking them send a police officer to maintain good order.

The court also said that it could not ignore the fact that the alleged victim and her boyfriend had both testified to having seen the accused retrieve a metal rod from his car and that he had struck them with it, noting that the injuries suffered by the boyfriend also supported this claim.


The court ruled that although the accused’s actions had exceeded the limits of legitimate self-defence, the partner’s confrontational and aggressive behaviour, his threatening phone call, the manner in which he arrived at the scene, together with the physical aggression he and the woman had used against the accused and his elderly father rendered the offence excusable at law as it was “due to fear or fright.”

The court said it believed that the accused had told the woman that he would “wring her neck” over the phone, and that the threat had likely spurred her partner’s exaggerated aggressive reaction. However, nowhere in the partner’s testimony had he mentioned himself as having been threatened.

Magistrate Montebello found the defendant found guilty of the minor offence of breaching the peace, however, because the act itself of striking the woman and her partner with a hard object, “it was excessive behaviour which, without a doubt, even objectively, would have spurred a measure of worry for their safety.”

The defendant was found guilty of assaulting and threatening only the woman as well as the charge of breaching the peace. As it was upholding the defence of excess in legitimate self-defence with regards the assault charge, the court did not impose any punishment for the assault. A fine of €58.23 was imposed as punishment for the charges relating to threatening the woman and breaching the peace.

The court bound the man to keep the peace with the other two parties for the next 12 months, warning him that failure to do so would make him liable to the payment of a €2,000 penalty.

Inspectors Stacy Attard and Elisia Scicluna prosecuted. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri were defence counsel.