Woman jailed over 2018 hammer attack on neighbour

The woman had tried to drag the victim’s six-year-old son out of her car, before hitting her in the back of her head, biting her and spitting in her face

A hammer attack that left a woman seriously injured has earned her assailant a four-year prison sentence.

Charlene Gatt, 37 from St. Paul’s Bay, was jailed for four years and four months after being found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm in the attack which took place on 28 November 2018 in Triq i-Cern, St. Paul’s Bay. 

During the compilation proceedings against Gatt, Magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia had heard witnesses testify to how the Qawra Police Station had received a call reporting a fight in the area that day. When officers arrived at the scene, they found the victim sitting inside a parked car, her face and hands covered in blood.

The victim told the police that she had been parking her car after picking up her son and his friend from school, when Gatt came out of her house and approached the vehicle, holding a hammer in her hand. Gatt opened the back door and attempted to drag the six-year-old child out, she said. The victim said that she had somehow managed to close the door, before Gatt hit her on the back with the hammer, punched her in the face, bit her, pulled her hair and spat in her face.

While testifying in court, the victim said Gatt had been trying to kidnap her son, and described how she had wrested the metal hammer - a meat tenderiser, from Gatt's hands.

When she had asked the defendant why she was attacking her, she recalled Gatt as replying "that’s what I want to do, because you take pleasure in other people’s misfortune." 

The victim denied ever harassing the defendant, adding that Gatt had damaged her car a month before the assault, for no good reason. Despite her having filed a police report about that incident, no action had been taken against the defendant, she said.

A medical doctor who had treated the victim on the day of the attack had certified her as having suffered a laceration to her face, near her left eye, a penetrating bite mark on the palm of her hand, as well as abrasions. These were confirmed by a court-appointed medico-legal expert who classified them as grievous in nature, although not permanent.

On her part, Gatt had exercised her right to silence during questioning. The court noted that despite it having given her several opportunities to submit her evidence, she had failed to do so.

Having seen the evidence before it, the court said that it had no reason to doubt the veracity of the victim’s testimony, or of the version of events that she had described in court. 

Besides grievous bodily harm, Gatt was also found guilty of insulting or threatening the woman, breaching the peace, using the hammer as a weapon against the victim, breaching a probation order and recidivism.
The court observed that the defendant had no less than twenty previous convictions, including several for prostitution-related offences, as well as fraud and several breaches of probation orders and bail conditions.

It also noted that Gatt had not changed her ways despite having been given several chances to do so by the courts, having been released on bail on six occasions, as well as having been handed three probation orders and two suspended sentences. 

A probation officer who had been assigned to the woman after her arraignment, as part of a temporary supervision order, had informed the court that the defendant had not cooperated.

Magistrate Farrugia noted that Gatt, who is currently already serving a prison sentence in connection with a separate violent incident which left another person seriously injured, had attacked the victim “without the slightest provocation,” sentencing her to four years in prison as well as another four months for breaching her probation order. 

Inspector Godwin Scerri prosecuted.