A man has been jailed for six months after he was found guilty of working as a private investigator to follow and take photographs of his employer’s ex-wife to be exhibited during separation proceedings.
Alfred Attard, 48, from St Paul’s Bay was convicted of acting as an unlicensed private investigator on behalf of journalist Victor Paul Borg and harassing the man’s estranged wife and her lawyer, Kevin Mompalao .
The court heard how the case had started after Mompalao filed a criminal complaint against the accused and Borg, accusing Attard of acting as an unlicensed private investigator and harassing him and his family.
Police Inspector Bernard Charles Spiteri testified that police investigations had revealed that Attard had been engaged by Borg to follow the movements of Borg’s estranged wife because he wanted to prove that it was not true that she was unemployed, as she was spending a lot of time at her lawyer’s residence.
He said Attard had discovered that she was spending an amount of time at Mompalao’s residence and had the evidence to prove it in the form of a log-book logging her movements as well as footage and photographs. Attard had compiled a report which was exhibited by Borg during his separation proceedings.
According to the logs on the report, it resulted that Attard had been following the woman’s and Mompalao’s movements for quite some time. This was confirmed by the police investigation as well as in the testimony given by Borg in court.
Magistrate Joe Mifsud noted in his judgment that Attard had admitted to the police that he had been engaged to do this by Borg and that he had no licence to carry out private investigator work.
The court heard Borg’s ex-wife testify that the man had been following her movements and that he (Attard) would come up with excuses such as that he was lost, or that he was waiting for someone or that he had been locked out of his house.
“He used to follow with the car, follow me and say who I am going to... who is my friend, or who I am going to talk to, or who I am going to meet... I do not know who he is. But after he came to court they say he is private investigator,” she testified in court in broken English.
She said Attard had followed her to her friend’s house and knocked on the door pretending to be lost, whilst taking photos of her with a hidden camera.
Borg told the court that he had told Attard to follow the woman’s movements over four days when the couple’s daughter was with him. Borg said the brief was to prove that his ex-wife was lying when she said she was unemployed as he suspected she was working as a cleaner at the lawyer’s residence. He said he had exhibited footage, photographs and a log book of the woman’s movements during the separation proceedings.
Mompalao testified that he was the woman’s lawyer in her separation case from Borg. He said that when his wife was pregnant, the woman would go to his house to help with the cleaning.
Attard had admitted to having worked as a private detective in a separate case in 2017.
Magistrate Joe Mifsud said there was no doubt that the law linked the services of a private investigator with the definition of a private guard and that this activity required a licence.
Attard’s following of the movements of the parte civile constituted a “course of conduct” required for the offence of stalking to also subsist.
The magistrate said that it was “shameful that some people exploited the vulnerability of those who are desperate for information because of a situation they had ended up in.” The court said it was “disgusting” behaviour which invaded the privacy of another person.
Attard was jailed for six months and a five-year protection order was issued in favour of Mompalao and his family.