A soldier who turned violent after his wife posted an Instagram photo of herself at the beach was conditionally discharged for three years on Wednesday.

Joel Portelli, 30, was found guilty of causing slight injuries and exceeding the limits of provocation during a marital row two summers ago.

Mr Portelli had flown into a rage after his wife had shared a photo showing the sea view and the lower part of her legs on Instagram in August 2017, the court heard.

He had sent her messages calling her a “whore” who lazed around, always taking the kids to the beach and then continued the row when he returned home that evening as the couple’s two young children lay asleep.

As the argument escalated, the man had allegedly ordered her out, grabbing her by the neck and dragging her along the corridor towards the main door of the apartment. The woman, fearing for her children, had put up a struggle and been hurt while being dragged against the door jamb.

She had finally manage to make it into her car and called her father-in-law, in the hope that he would talk sense into his son’s head.

The father-in-law defused the situation and the woman took the couple’s children to her parents, later filing a police report.

When testifying, the woman claimed that her husband had threatened to kill her or jump from the Ta’ Cenc cliffs, taking the couple’s children with him.

Mr Portelli was accused of grievously injuring the alleged victim, threatening her, breaching the peace and committing a crime he was duty bound to prevent.

Both the woman and her alleged aggressor testified in the course of the proceedings.

The court, presided over by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, observed that a final decision had been delayed while attempts at the couple’s reconciliation were ongoing.

However, when these attempts failed, the court had proceeded to judgment, starting off by warning against the harmful effects of social networks which, when misused, could lead to breakups and character assassination.

As for domestic violence, the court pointed out that this could never be justified, no matter what the circumstances and was to be handled as a public matter which gave rise to social problems and crimes.

Focusing upon the case at hand, the victim had suffered a fractured leg and bruising above the hip according to medical testimony.

However, in the light of all evidence put forward, the court pronounced itself “convinced” that the nature of the injury had been slight, explaining that classification of an injury was ultimately in the hands of the judge deciding upon the facts and was not “necessarily and exclusively” based on “medical opinion.”

When all was weighed and assessed, the court concluded that the man was guilty of causing slight injuries and exceeding the limits of provocation, though not guilty of breaching the peace.

He was also acquitted of the charge of committing an offence which he was bound to prevent, as the Malta Armed Forces Act revealed no such obligation, the court said. 

In the light of the family’s circumstances, the court added, it was recommendable for the accused to retain his job.

The court conditionally discharged Mr Portelli for 3 years, binding him under a €2000 personal guarantee for one year.