Reformed criminal has jail sentence for assaulting police reduced to probation on appeal

The assault took place in 2009 and the court heard how the man has tried to keep himself on the straight and narrow

A man has avoided a 6-month stint in prison for assaulting police officers, after an appeals court was shown that he had abandoned his criminal past.

Ludwig Cassar had been handed a 6-month prison sentence in 2015, over an assault on police officers that had taken place six years before, at Footloose bar in Paceville.

Cassar had been approached by officers inside the entertainment because he was smoking. The officers asked him to follow them out of the establishment so as to take down his particulars.

Once outside, he had thrown the cigarette away and swore at the officers, who then attempted to arrest him. The man violently resisted the arrest, damaging the uniforms of two officers and telling the arresting policemen that he would “find them one by one,” while boasting that he had just completed a 20 month stretch in prison and was not afraid to go there again.

Despite his tarnished record, the court said it was prepared to grant this opportunity to the appellant in view of his clear efforts to keep himself on the straight and narrow.

For this reason, the court upheld the appeal and amended the man's sentence, removing the six-month prison sentence and imposing a 2-year probation order in its stead. The court of appeal held that the punishment was within the legally-established boundaries for the offence that he had admitted to, in fact holding that it was close to the minimum.

It was unacceptable for anyone to attack the forces of law and order, the court said. Likewise, it was also unacceptable that, instead of recognising that he was breaking the law and apologising, Cassar had chosen to go down the route of confrontation and bravado.

This was not acceptable in a society, said the judge, noting that under today's law the crime was subject to a minimum of six months imprisonment and a fine of €4,000 to €10,000.

“The appellant should count himself lucky that he hadn't been condemned to a harsher punishment by the court of first instance, in view of his criminal record.”

However, the court said, the particular facts of this case merited the appellant's request be upheld.

The appellant had been arraigned in 2009 and his sentence handed down in 2015, noted the court. In the meantime, Cassar had not been convicted of another serious crime, and had been in steady full-time employment for 18 months. His employer had vouched for his improvement.

Judge Giovanni Grixi, presiding the Court of Criminal Appeal, held that this was a window of opportunity where punishment could be mitigated where the appellant had demonstrated progress and showed clear signs of distancing himself from his criminal lifestyle.

The court therefore, while confirming the finding of guilt in Cassar's regard, converted his punishment to two years' probation.