Inmate gets jail term reduced due to charge sheet error

Former inmate gets reduction in prison term after Court of Appeal rules that the injuries caused to a prison guard nine years ago were of slight nature and not grievous injuries as stated in the charge sheet.

Former inmate William Mercieca was awarded a month’s reduction in jail time, after the Court of Appeal ruled that the injuries he caused to a prison guard nine years ago were not grievous.

Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano heard how at 9:15am of 5 December 2005, Mercieca was held in Division 13 at the Corradino Prisons. An argument started between Correctional Officer Stephen James Camilleri and the inmate, who objected to his cell door being locked.

Mercieca caught the guard by the chain of cell keys, insulted him and assaulted him with a kettle containing hot tea. The inmate was pulled off the guard by other detainees. The guard was taken to hospital and certified to have suffered a fractured finger.

Inspector Jurgen Vella charged Mercieca with grievously injuring Officer Stephen James Camilleri, threatening and assaulting a public officer and relapsing. On 30 November 2012, the Criminal Court sentenced Mercieca to nine months in prison.

However Mercieca appealed, arguing there were no grievous injuries as no evidence of deformity or disfigurement were presented at court. The same argument was applied to the charge of threatening. Moreover, the appellant faced seven years of court sittings prior to the court delivering judgement.

“No evidence was brought forward that the injury was of grievous nature, hence the injuries suffered by the guard are to be considered as slight injuries”, the Court of Appeal said.

The Court also noted that while in 2006 the convicted was involved in a similar incident, he had changed his life and has not been in court since.

“Furthermore, the lengthy procedures he faced in this case are to be taken into consideration when delivering judgement. Yet the court cannot overlook that those who work at correctional facilities should be respected, not assaulted”, the Judge said.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Mercieca’s nine-month jail term be reduced to eight months.

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