A male official at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra who last year admitted to sexually harassing a female member of the orchestra has had his punishment reduced on appeal.
Last year, the 31-year-old Gozitan resident who could not be named due to a media ban, was condemned to one-year imprisonment suspended for four years. He had also been placed under a restraining order for five years.
Back then the court heard how his victim had resigned over the “excessive stress” caused by the abuse.
But the court of criminal appeal, presided by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, observed that there was little evidence as to what the harassment actually consisted of.
The evidence showed that most of it was done by means of WhatsApp messages sent to the victim.
For the crime of harassment to subsist there had to be a course of conduct, the court observed. In this case, the victim had to put up with the harassment over a period of three years and four months between May 2019 and September 2022.
As for the offence of misuse of electronic communications equipment, the court observed that this was a means to an end, namely to commit the harassment.
Upon arraignment, the accused had pleaded guilty after all parties, including the lawyers representing the victim, agreed to a conditional discharge.
The Magistrates' Court did not agree with that punishment as it had every right to and in fact imposed a suspended sentence. In light of all considerations including the accused's untainted record, his early admission, his cooperation and evidence of his state of anxiety, the court upheld his appeal.
The punishment was changed to a three-year conditional discharge and a fine of €500.
The court confirmed the restraining order imposed by the first court.