‘Police portrayed me as a mental monster’ - Mosta cat ‘killer’
“The unfounded accusations brought against me were intended to damage my reputation and for the police to portray me as a mental monster in court and with the public,” according to Nicholas Grech, dubbed ‘the Mosta cat killer’, in a letter to The Malta Independent.
Mr Grech, a 39-year-old engineer from Mosta, was arraigned in June 2014 over the Mosta cat and dog ‘crucifixions’ that had started in October 2011 and lasted until 3 February 2014 and was acquitted of all charges. He was, however, remanded to Mount Carmel Hospital for an indefinite period, where he has been since.
During court proceedings, the court had appointed three psychiatrists who found that that Mr Grech had no intention of harming the animals and that he was suffering from impaired judgement due to his mental condition. He was declared insane.
In his letter to this newspaper, Mr Grech confessed that, being a cyclist, he used to encounter several animals which had been killed on main roads and that he then recovered them, nailed them to crosses and hung them on religious sites around in his hometown of Mosta.
Mr Grech insisted that, “The Police knew beforehand that I do not harm animals, but love them - to the extent that they never felt the need to examine the three cats I had as pets at home for any form of maltreatment. It’s as if I was accused of kidnapping and killing children, but then the police failed to examine them or to take them from my custody.”
Mr Grech wrote in his correspondence that the Police had mentioned in court, when he was not present, how autopsies carried out on the animals showed that they were not hit by cars. He added that they did this so that he could not defend himself and so they could continue to portray him in a bad light in court, and with all the obvious consequences in the final sentence.
Another accusation that Mr Grech faced was over the violation of tombs, trespassing on religious grounds and forcing entry into the Mosta parish church and l-Isperanza Chapel.
In this letter he said that these, “… accusations are nothing more than the research I was doing on Mosta’s old church.”
Mr Grech said, “I use to enter at night to take measurements and photos of the place with the intention that, out of my research I could raise enough public interest/awareness for the authorities to finally do a cultural and historical project and maybe utilise European funds to clean up the place and do excavations where possible.
“It is as if I entered the cemetery to measure the chapel within and ended up being accused with violation of tombs instead of just unauthorised entry to the cemetery. From my research I found that the first four and a half courses of the old church are still in place on all sides all around and what remains of its pavement is situated about 120cm below that of the Rotunda, amongst many things I discovered which have never been researched, investigated or documented before.
“For sure I never touched tombs as was reported and the ‘desecration of graves within the ossuary’ was nothing more than a photo of a door I opened in the ossuary leading to what was the sacristy of the old church. This accusation was a lie in itself as within the ossuary there were no graves and this represented the epitome of how low the Police could go to make a mockery of me.”
Mr Grech wrote that if the accusations were levelled appropriately - namely that of littering public places with dead animals and entering the church crypt without authorisation – it would have made a big difference in court and in the eyes of the media and public.
Human right to fair trial violated
“I feel that I am a victim of the system and my human rights to a fair trial have been violated by a media conference by the police just before my first appearance in court, which, together with the unfounded accusations, prejudiced my case before it had even started, leading the media to portray me as a mental monster, routinely calling me a cat killer, when I was far from a killer and never harmed an animal in all my life.”
Me Grech ended his letter by saying that, “The accusations against me with the pressure from the public opinion and the media, for sure influenced the report of the psychiatrists for the court, with the consequence that I ended up being described as schizophrenic.
“I am forced to take medication I do not need which is having severe repercussions on my health and after more than two I am still enclosed in a mental institution with more yet to come.”
Mr Grech is asking the authorities to investigate and that actions are taken so that the culprits face justice and such abuses, are not repeated with other victims.
During the past two years he said that he wrote to President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici and Minister for Internal Affairs Carmelo Abela, requesting to be released but nothing was done.
This newsroom last year had published a story saying that the mental health review tribunal – then headed by the late Mr Justice Joseph Apap Bologna – had recommended a rejection.
On February 2014, Mr Grech was caught on CCTV cameras hanging dead animals on the façade and back of the Mosta parish church.
The footage was published exclusively by The Malta Independent and was viewed close to 100,000 times.