The man accused of the Mosta cat killings, a 37-year-old engineer, was this morning sentenced to Mount Carmel Hospital "for as long as necessary" after he was found not criminally responsible for the killing of the animals.

Magistrate Carol Peralta ruled that Nicholas Grech, who was accused of animal cruelty after a long series of animal killings, with cats and dogs having been found crucified in various parts of Mosta, was not responsible for the animal crucifixions.

He reached his conclusion after a team of psychiatrists appointed by a court to examine the accused found that he could not be held responsible since at the time of the crimes he was in a state of mental agitation.

Magistrate Peralta said that according to the experts, Mr Grech did not kill the animals but found them dead and used them to pass a message to society.

Mr Grech had been suffering schizophrenia and did not have criminal intentions, the magistrate said, noting that "he was never a threat to society as long as he was receiving care", slipping only when he stopped taking his medication.

He therefore ordered that Mr Grech be kept at the psychiatric hospital "for as long as is deemed necessary".

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