Sex abuse grandfather's punishment reduced on appeal

The man had been imprisoned for sexually abusing his granddaughter when she was 14   

(File)
(File)

A man accused of corrupting his granddaughter and committing a violent indecent assault on her has had his sentence reduced on appeal.

The story began in 2007 when the victim, then 14 years old, called Appogg and reported that her paternal grandfather had sexually abused her. The child had lived with her grandparents since she was three.

In October 2013, the Court of Magistrates had found the man, who is not being named at the order of the court, guilty and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment. He was also included to the sex offenders register.

He had appealed, arguing that there was a wrong interpretation of the evidence and that the punishment was excessive in view of his age – he was a vulnerable person who would be in prison until the age of 79.

The Court of Magistrates had given weight to inadmissible and irrelevant witnesses, argued his lawyers, Michael and Lucio Sciriha, who told the court that for the charges to be proven, a pattern of conduct had to be established with respect to the victim and not anyone else.

Judge Antonio Mizzi observed that the court of first instance had not found guilt on the basis of the third party witnesses, but had found the version of events given by the victim to be credible in comparison to that given by the accused.

It disagreed with the defence’s assertion that it was discriminatory that the victim was allowed to testify via videoconferencing but not the accused. This was a legal requirement even at EU level and the argument was devoid of any legal basis, said the court.

On the issue of punishment, the court observed that the crime was punishable by imprisonment from three to 12 years, and the first court was well within the parameters when it handed down the six-year sentence.

However, when it came to handing down punishment, the first court had failed to take into account the victim’s testimony. Whilst she was unable to retract any criminal complaint due to the fact that this was a case prosecuted by the police ex officio, the girl’s testimony should have brought about a reduction in punishment.

The court of appeal rejected the appeal on the merits but upheld the appeal where the punishment was concerned, reducing it to four years from six.

Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha were defence counsel.

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