A man who injured a correctional officer when he was told he could not hand over food to his son in prison, has been found guilty of assaulting one instead of four officers, as originally decided by court.
John Bartolo, 70, had filed an appeal after landing a nine-month jail term suspended for 18 months and a €4,100 fine after being found guilty by a Magistrates’ Court of assaulting four correctional services officers, slightly injuring one of them in the row which had broken out at the Corradino prison in 2018.
On that October morning, the accused turned up at CCF with food for his son who was serving time behind bars.
However, through some administrative error, the son’s name had not been registered on the day’s list of inmates expecting food from home.
But the father refused to be turned away, insisting that he would not leave unless “the food was allowed in.”
The situation escalated and the man threatened the prison staff who had to call members of the Special Response Team for assistance.
The father was finally dragged away, handcuffed and kicking, to the Paola police station where he spent the night before being arraigned the following day.
He was convicted of violently resisting and assaulting four officers, slightly injuring one of them, uttering foul words in public, breaching the peace and refusing to obey legitimate police orders.
He was further charged with having committed these offences during the operative period of a suspended sentence.
The man filed an appeal.
On Thursday, the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, confirmed the conviction but said that the charge concerning the violent assault had only been proved in respect of one of the officers, rather than all four.
However, the court did not reduce the punishment since that meted out by the first court had leaned towards the minimum and besides, the appellant’s criminal record was not totally untainted.
The accused could have taken necessary steps “within legal parameters” to ensure that the situation was seen to, said the court, stressing that “violence had no place in a civilised society and was to be condemned in any situation.”
Lawyer David Gatt assisted the appellant.
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