Ap­peals court over­turns 2012 ac­quit­tal, finds man guilty of in­jur­ing his in­fant son

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

An ap­peals court yes­ter­day over­turned the ac­quit­tal of a man who had been charged with caus­ing se­ri­ous in­jury to his in­fant son and found him guilty of hav­ing done so in­vol­un­tar­ily.

Jonathan Calleja, 33, from Sen­glea, had ac­cused of hav­ing in­jured his three-month-old son, which was likely to cause a per­ma­nent weak­ness. He had also been charged with sub­ject­ing the baby to cruel mis­treat­ment, fail­ing to take proper care of the in­fant, caus­ing the child a num­ber of slight in­juries and re­laps­ing.

A court cleared him of all charges in 2012 af­ter it found that the in­ten­tional re­quire­ment had not been sat­is­fied. The court had noted, how­ever, that the man had not acted in an ideal man­ner and this was a re­sult of his in­ex­pe­ri­ence in child­care.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral had ap­pealed the ac­quit­tal, point­ing out that ac­cord­ing to three med­i­cal ex­perts who tes­ti­fied in the orig­i­nal case, there was no doubt that the boy’s in­juries came as a re­sult of vi­o­lence. The child had suf­fered bruis­ing be­low his left eye and ear and on the left side of his chest. His left arm was also frac­tured.

The AG said Mr Calleja had ini­tially told the po­lice that he had dropped the child while try­ing to make it stop cry­ing. He said he was throw­ing the boy in the air and catch­ing him. He ad­mit­ted that he was rough with the child but said this was be­cause he was a rough per­son. He had also ad­mit­ted to squeez­ing the boy be­cause he was cry­ing. The ap­peal said that, even if this ver­sion was to be be­lieved, the man’s ac­tions still con­sti­tuted neg­li­gence.

Mr Jus­tice David Sci­cluna, pre­sid­ing over the Court of Crim­i­nal Ap­peal, noted that the first court had re­lied heav­ily on Mr Calleja’s orig­i­nal state­ment, which had not been re­leased in the pres­ence of a lawyer. As such it was deemed to be in­ad­mis­si­ble. The ap­peals court agreed with the first court that the man could not be found guilty of hav­ing vol­un­tar­ily in­jured the baby, but this did not mean that he could not be found guilty of hav­ing done so in­vol­un­tar­ily.

Mr Calleja was there­fore found guilty of griev­ously in­jur­ing his son and was con­di­tion­ally dis­charged for 18 months.

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