A mother who was stripped of child custody while she received treatment at Mount Carmel Hospital reacted by harassing and threatening the father of her child, a court heard on Friday.
The 44-year-old woman, who cannot be named by court order, pleaded guilty to alleged harassment as well as insulting and threatening her ex-partner in a manner that exceeded the limits of provocation.
“It’s true that I did those things. I won’t deny,” she admitted when asked what she was pleading. She later wept as her lawyer approached her, gently advising her on the best way forward.
The court case follows a spate of alleged incidents between herself and her estranged partner, with a court hearing how the woman’s ex had filed five police reports over a span of two months related to her behavior.
The woman, who regularly admitted herself to Mount Carmel Hospital for treatment, would allegedly turn up at the man’s home and workplace the minute she stepped out of the hospital.
In some cases, their child would be around to witness the harassment.
The last straw came when the family court decided that the father should get full custody of the child. The mother was receiving treatment at Mount Carmel when that decree was issued, and only learned that she had lost custody once she was discharged.
Faced with this situation the court, presided over by magistrate Noel Bartolo, asked whether the accused had been assisted by a lawyer in the family proceedings.
Legal aid lawyer Leontine Calleja, who assisted the mother during Friday’s arraignment, explained that the woman had apparently contacted a lawyer but had not yet engaged his or her services.
Meanwhile, social services agency Appoġġ had stepped in to assist the mother and ensure that the best interests of the minor are safeguarded, the court was told.
In fact, the woman had not been denied access and had been allowed to see her child under supervision.
The prosecution did not insist upon an effective term of imprisonment but suggested a probation order to ensure that a probation officer would watch over the woman and afford her all necessary help.
The couple had split up and needed to go separate ways, said prosecuting inspector Sherona Buhagiar.
“But the prosecution’s aim is to ensure that the minor will ultimately be reunited with her mother in the proper way.”
After temporarily suspending the hearing, Magistrate Bartolo returned from chambers to order that the accused be placed under a two-year probation order, after taking note of the case’s particular circumstances.
The court also issued a two-year protection order in favor of the accused’s ex and banned publication of all names to safeguard the minor.
“No matter what rights you may have, you cannot take matters into your own hands. If everyone did that, there would be chaos. You may feel overwhelmed but you have to apply the legal procedures,” said the court, as the woman nodded in understanding.
“Thank you,” said the accused as she walked away, after being warned once again by the magistrate to abide by the terms of the probation order.
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