Mother who repeatedly urged ex-partner to pay for daughter's dental treatment, cleared of harassment on appeal

Court of Criminal Appeal rules messages didn’t qualify as harassment, but were a plea for help

File photo
File photo

A mother who found herself in legal trouble after calling her ex a “clown” (purċinell) while asking for money to pay for their daughter’s dental work, has been cleared of harassment charges on appeal.

Despite having broken up three years ago, the woman would repeatedly ask her ex-partner for cash, while at the same time, refusing him access to their child. The final straw for the father was being called a “clown” and labelled “retarded” by the woman. He filed a report to the police.

The woman was subsequently charged with misuse of electronic communications equipment and several counts of harassment of the father. In October 2020, the woman was acquitted of the misuse of telecommunications equipment charge but was convicted of harassment.  

An appeal was then filed by the woman ‘s lawyer Jason Grima. In a decision, handed down on Thursday 20 April, the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by Mr. Justice Neville Camilleri, noted that the problems began when the woman had started to accuse the father of shirking his fatherly duties and failing to pay child support. The couple’s daughter had needed dental treatment, which the mother could not pay for as she was unemployed. The insults were made when his new partner had decided to get involved, she had explained.

The defendant had stopped texting her ex after being spoken to by the police, although the father testified that the woman had continued to send him message after message, even after he blocked her. He eventually had to change his number, he said.

The man explained that he had stopped paying child support because the defendant wouldn’t let him see their daughter. He also confirmed that his new partner had replied to one of the mother’s messages.

But after examining the messages themselves, the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that they didn’t qualify as harassment. The texts were a plea for help, not harassment, the judge said, noting that the daughter was eventually treated at the hospital for free.

The court upheld the mother’s appeal and cleared her of wrongdoing. The appellant was assisted by lawyer Jason Grima.