Thursday, 11 October 2012

Times: Gay jibe sentence may be appealed
Thursday, October 11, 2012 by Kurt Sansone

The Attorney General is considering appealing against a magistrate’s decision to hand a man a conditional discharge after he ran over an Australian for making a gay jibe.

Attorney General Peter Grech said his office would be “looking into the case” but refrained from commenting on the decision.

The sentence, seen by some as lenient, was handed down by Magistrate Carol Peralta on Friday and published on Monday.

However, it was the magistrate’s reasoning – he said a conditional discharge was appropriate given the “mentality” of Mellieħa residents who considered such an insult “unacceptable” – that prompted most critical comments.

Sources said the police gave notice of appeal but the onus would fall on the AG’s office to establish whether there are grounds for appeal. Any consideration will have to be made within the parameters of the law taking into account the crimes the man was charged with.

The case revolves around Alan Gauci, 36, from Mellieħa, who caused serious and permanent injury to Jeremy Lalic in 2004.

Mr Gauci ran over the victim with his car because Mr Lalic had insinuated, behind his back, that he was homosexual. The accused had told the police that he was so offended that he thought to himself the man “deserved to be run over”.

Magistrate Peralta found Mr Gauci guilty on all counts but conditionally discharged him after taking into consideration “the mentality of society in that village”.

The magistrate said that Mr Gauci was from Mellieħa and, therefore, had a reputation to defend.

“Given that the insinuation that the accused could be gay was made in Mellieħa, in front of other residents, it is possible that for the accused and other Mellieħa citizens this was unacceptable.”

Also taking into account Mr Gauci’s previous good conduct, the magistrate conditionally discharged him for three years because the law allowed for a more lenient punishment in the case of a provoked attack.

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