A Maltese international footballer risks ruining his career if he is sent to jail for an "excessive" 15 months for harassing his ex-girlfriend, his lawyers have told a bail hearing.
Clifford Gatt Baldacchino has admitted repeatedly harassing his former partner in violation of a court order. He followed her to the beach and bombarded her with phone calls.
Lawyers for the 31-year-old appealed for bail to free the man from “the dark cloud” that risked ruining his life. He is also appealing the sentencing.
They said he had risked his football career and life in general over a two-year personal relationship that he could not accept had ended.
Mr Baldacchino needed professional help to overcome this difficult period in life, his lawyers argued.
Defence lawyer Mark Vassallo said that as a football player he had "rendered a service to the state."
"He’s currently going through a trauma, even experiencing prison for the past two weeks," he said.
“He admits having committed a series of mistakes when the relationship came to an end and he would not take no for an answer,” Dr Vassallo explained.
Dr Vassallo said the defence was not contesting that Mr Baldacchino made mistakes but argued that the punishment handed down by the Magistrates’ Court "was very excessive."
"It doesn’t make sense to have a person sent to jail for 15 months, ruining his career and his life. At least we should try to save him," he said.
Another defence lawyer Edward Gatt said the Magistrates Court had been “rather hasty" in the sentencing and that the accused had breached the law on account of a "person deemed dear to him". He said the accused had a supportive family background, shown by the strong presence of relatives and friends in the courtroom.
The defence suggested that the court grant bail under a supervision order and under a third party guarantee provided by a family member.
Lawyer Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General said the prosecution was concerned about a possible breach of bail conditions.
However, the prosecution would not object so long as bail was granted under strict conditions, including supervision, a guarantee, a curfew and some form of restriction on the use of social media, given that the case involved harassment.
Any curfew would have to take into account the evening training sessions of the player.
The decree on bail will be delivered in chambers.
Lawyer Jean Paul Sammut was also defence counsel. Criminal Court, presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera.
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