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Man cleared of breaching protection order

A man was cleared of breaching a protection order as a court observed that such orders were important tools to protect vulnerable persons but were sometimes abused by those they were meant to protect.

That observation was made by Magistrate Lara Lanfranco when delivering judgment against Kyle Lautier who was targeted by criminal charges for allegedly breaching a protection order and two sets of bail conditions.

It all started when his former partner reported at the Domestic Violence Unit that Lautier, whom she spotted while out shopping with her son earlier that day, had insulted her, calling her a “whore” as she drove by at Birzebbuga.

It was her son who had first drawn her attention to the accused’s presence nearby as the pair exited a shop.

As soon as they got into the car, the woman switched on her mobile camera and drove off, noting the car normally driven by her ex parked outside a pet shop nearby.

Driving along Pretty Bay Street she heard a male voice call out “whore.”

The woman went round the block and back again but she neither saw nor heard her ex again.

Later that day, she filed a report about the episode and her ex was questioned by the police.

He opted for his right to silence.

The man was subsequently charged with breaching a protection order in favour of his ex, two sets of bail conditions, insulting and threatening the alleged victim as well as wilfully breaching the public peace.

His lawyer argued that that day, in July 2021, just ten minutes before the alleged incident Lautier had gone to sign the bail book at the police station.

The accused admitted that there had been previous clashes with his former partner but this was not one of them.

Moreover, if the woman was indeed scared of him, she would not have gone twice around the block, filming the streets as though to ensnare him into provocation.

The video she presented in court captured the voice shouting out the insult but the figure behind that voice was not visible.

Neither the woman nor her son had said that it was the accused’s voice.

And his car had been parked way off from the grocery store where mother and son had gone shopping.

When delivering judgment the court observed that the verbal insult was “crystal clear” but the person behind it was not visible and the victim had been honest enough to admit that it was not the first time that she had been mistaken about her ex.

She had only heard the shouting but had not seen the accused address or look at her.

Footage produced in evidence actually showed the accused walking briskly to the local police station where he signed the bail book at 9:21am.

He was not banned from going to Birzebbuga and he had not tried to approach or harass his ex.

After examining the evidence, the court acquitted the accused of all the charges. It observed that protection orders were important tools to safeguard vulnerable individuals against potential or past aggressors. But sometimes such court orders are abused by those they are designed to protect.

For instance, the victim might approach the person bound by such an order, thus defeating the purpose and neutralising the court’s order.

Worse still, a victim might approach the person targeted by such order, persistently and purposely provoking a reaction, then later claim that that person had breached the protection order.

The prosecution was bound to act upon such an alleged breach, but the court “would not tolerate such allegations if it clearly results that the behaviour allegedly in breach of the protection order was possibly provoked by the person benefiting from such an order,” observed the magistrate.

Lawyer Ezekiel Psaila was defence counsel.