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