Nicholas Grech acquitted, to receive treatment in mental health hospital

The man charged with the Mosta cat crucifixions was cleared of all charges because he had no criminal intent. He is to be kept at Mount Carmel Hospital for as long as necessary.

This file photo shows Nicholas Grech being escorted to the Courts. Photo: Chris Mangion
This file photo shows Nicholas Grech being escorted to the Courts. Photo: Chris Mangion

Nicholas Grech, the man charged with the killing and crucifixion of animals in Mosta, has been acquitted of all charges and sentenced to be kept at Mount Carmel Hospital for as long as is necessary.

Court-appointed psychiatrists said he had no criminal intent and was suffered from impaired judgement due to his mental condition and was declared insane.

On Thursday morning, Magistrate Carol Peralta cleared Grech of all charges. The accused could not be convicted of the offences because he lacked the ability to differentiate between good and bad.

“The court is saddened with the public disturbance the man has caused, but based on the report of psychiatrists Ethel Felice, Peter Muscat and David Cassar, he cannot be held criminally liable for his actions. The court acquits Grech of criminal responsibility but ordered that he is kept at Mount Carmel hospital for as long as in necessary," the Magistrate said.

The 37-year old engineer from Mosta was charged with the illegal killing of various animals, animal cruelty, violation of burial grounds, trespassing on religious grounds, forcing entry into the Mosta Parish church and l-Isperanza Chapel and vilifying the Catholic religion.

The notorious hangings and mock crucifixions of dog and cat carcasses around Mosta date back to 16 October 2011, with the last case taking place on 3 February 2014. In the last incident, a dog and cat were found hung upside down at the side and on the front of the Mosta Church.

In a sitting held earlier this week, the court-appointed psychiatrists said that at the time of the incidents, Grech had stopped taking his medication and was suffering from schizophrenia. “He had no criminal intent when he committed the offences and was not in a state to differentiate between right and wrong,” the report read.

In delivering judgement, Magistrate Peralta said that the three psychiatrists wanted to put to rest any public concerns that the accused is a kind of man who roams the streets killing and crucifying animals.

“He always claimed he found dead animals and used their remains to pass on a message against animal cruelty. Due to his psychiatric condition, he justified his actions as a way to show the ugly side of animal cruelty," the court said.

The court also commented that Grech had been under treatment for years and was never a threat to society. “However he started lapsing on medication and eventually stopped taking his medication completely, which resulted in his mental instability."