‘Nuisance’ cat lady fined €30 for upsetting neighbours

A woman who kept seven cats in her apartment has been found guilty of creating a nuisance to her neighbours but was cleared of harassment charges

Seven cats and smelly litter cost a woman a fine of €30
Seven cats and smelly litter cost a woman a fine of €30

A woman was fined €30 for causing an inconvenience to neighbours after keeping seven cats in an apartment.

The woman, Denise Falzon ended up in the dock after her neighbours filed complaints with the authorities over the stench caused by cat litter.

The complaints led to inspections by district sanitation officials. The complainant couple pressed harassment charges after being driven to despair by the unbearable stench of the cats’ faeces wafting down from the veranda above.

In March of last year, the magistrates’ court had cleared Falzon of the charges brought against her, but a month later the Attorney General appealed the ruling.

In the course of appeal proceedings, the court, presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima it emerged that Falzon was keeping seven cats in breach of the contract which she had signed when she bought the apartment in Attard.

A clause in the contract stated that owners could not have pets in the apartment.

The judge observed that the accused would allow her cats to roam about her apartment whilst she was at work, placing their litter trays out on the veranda, thereby creating inconvenience to the owners of the flat below.

The cats were relocated to the bathroom after the British-based couple who spent regular intervals at their Attard apartment, had complained of the “unbearable stench” emanating from the accused’s veranda, overlooking their back yard. But this had only made matters worse for the couple, as the bathroom window was directly above their bedroom.

Distinguishing between harassment and behaviour which creates an inconvenience, the Court of Appeals confirmed the original judgment and cleared the accused of charges that she had harassed the neighbours.

On the basis of the evidence put forward, the judge observed that it was not proven that the accused had intended to harass her neighbours and had even tried to move her pets to reduce the inconvenience, eventually moving out altogether pending the court proceedings.

While confirming the acquittal in respect of the harassment charge, the court partly upheld the appeal, declaring itself “morally convinced” that the accused had caused an inconvenience to her neighbours, a contravention for which she was fined €30.

Lawyer Jason Grima appeared parte civile for the couple.

Inspector Elton Taliana prosecuted.

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