Somebody who should never have been made a magistrate has had Nicholas Grech committed

Published: June 27, 2014 at 1:02am

Carol Peralta, who should never have been made a magistrate because he is totally unfit, has had Nicholas Grech committed to a psychiatric hospital “for as long as necessary”.

This is the kind of barbaric treatment that is straight out of another era. It is a hundred times worse than a prison sentence because a prison sentence is of a fixed term. Those who are committed to a psychiatric hospital can spend the rest of their lives there, and many in Maltese (and European, and American) history have done so.

I hope a decent human rights lawyer will take up his case. In his state of vulnerability, Grech is almost certainly unable to organise this himself. Isn’t that the hideousness of being committed? Unlike an ordinary prisoner, you are unable to argue your case or defend yourself, because nobody takes you seriously.

Overnight, you become a ‘crazy’, deprived of your basic human rights.

Nicholas Grech is not a danger to society and until this happened, he held down a full-time job. He is just another schizophrenic. Schizophrenics make up one per cent of the population, and if they were all locked up in Mount Carmel Hospital at Magistrate Peralta’s pleasure, long lines of secure barracks would have to be built.

I quote from Times of Malta:

Magistrate Peralta said that according to the experts, Mr Grech did not kill the animals but found them dead and used them to pass a message to society.

Mr Grech had been suffering schizophrenia and did not have criminal intentions, the magistrate said, noting that “he was never a threat to society as long as he was receiving care”, slipping only when he stopped taking his medication.

He therefore ordered that Mr Grech be kept at the psychiatric hospital “for as long as is deemed necessary”.

See? He didn’t kill the cats and dogs. They were road-kill. If Nicholas Grech had not been a schizophrenic, the court would not have been able to do anything except fine him for littering/leaving animal carcasses in a public place. It is not against the law to pull a prank like that, involving already-dead dogs and cats, except for the littering aspect. And if he were not a schizophrenic, that’s how it would have been seen: as a prank.

Carol Peralta has had a man incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital because he failed to take his medication. Yet he failed to jail a man who deliberately ran over another man who, much earlier in the evening, had called him a ‘pufta’. He did not run him over in the first transport of passion (which would have been bad enough), but he lay in wait for him to come out of the bar and then drove his car at him. And Carol Peralta said that he could be excused for doing it because calling somebody a ‘pufta’ is a serious slur.

Would Nicholas Grech have driven his car at a man and tried to kill him for calling him ‘pufta’? Probably not, but if he had, he would have been incarcerated in a mental institution on the grounds that it was his failure to take his medication that made him do it.

So exactly who is crazy here – the man who drove at another man and tried to kill him for calling him ‘pufta’, risking years in jail had he not found Carol Peralta to save him? Carol Peralta himself, who is a lot more than just mildly eccentric? Nicholas Grech?

This is madness. Carol Peralta committing a schizophrenic for having failed to take his medication even though he committed no crime is a real case of the lunatics having taken over the asylum.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to see the legal point that’s being missed here, prompting me to wonder what sort of defence counsel Mr Grech had. The psychiatrists said that because Mr Grech wasn’t taking his medication, he couldn’t be held responsible for his actions.

So he couldn’t be found guilty of a crime.

WHAT CRIME? Littering? That’s a contravention, not a crime. Picking dead animals off the road, tying them to bits of wood and leaving them in public places at night is not a crime. Those dead animals were in a public place to begin with, anyway. That’s how he found them.

Nicholas Grech could not have been found guilty of committing a crime even if he HAD been taking his medication – because there was no crime.

So exactly why has he been committed?

Somebody has to take up his case. If I were a lawyer I would do it myself, immediately. This sort of abuse of the vulnerable, and by people who should never have been in the position they’re in, makes me really angry.

“Committed to a psychiatric hospital for as long as necessary” – what is this, the Soviet Union? Mao’s China?

27 Comments Comment

  1. H.P. Baxxter says:

    In another era, there would have been a full-blown Xarabank campaign and a petition from the President himself.

  2. rjc says:

    I suppose the reference in the second para includes people like Karmnu Grima who spent nine years in a mental institution without trial for allegedly attempting to shoot then PM Mintoff.

  3. Mike Farrugia says:

    I don’t agree with you on this one. The new Mental Health Act stipulates that no one can be hospitalized at Mount Carmel “for ever”.

    An assessment has to be performed every few weeks and the patient released as soon as he fit enough. That could be as soon as six weeks, if he responds well enough to the treatment provided.

  4. Timon of Athens says:

    What does he mean by ” as long as necessary”? For the rest of this man’s life? Schizophrenia is incurable. I tend to understand he’s being admitted for a while to have the proper treatment and encourage him to have his medication, but for ever? No.

    As far a s I know, nowadays, Schizophrenics are encouraged to live in society with help from their carers, and not institutionalized for the rest of their lives.

    Mr Grech is not a criminal, so why is he being locked up?

    I hope he has a good psychiatrist and social worker who can help him live as much a normal life as possible, back at his job and doing all other everyday things we all do.

  5. Joe Fenech says:

    When you’re choosing a country to live in, one of the first things to research is its legal system.

  6. Finding Nemo says:

    Shades of Nazism.

  7. La Redoute says:

    Can we have Peralta sectioned for being unfit for purpose?

  8. La Redoute says:

    There is something wrong with Peralta’s decision that goes beyond his immoral disregard for an individual’s rights.

    Under the law, a person can be taken into a mental hospital only if certified by two doctors as being a danger to himself or others.

    ‘Others’ – and that must be emphasised – means other human beings, and not dead animals.

  9. Roby says:

    Committed to a psychiatric institution at his majesty’s request.

    Let’s assume this person is a danger to society, how worse then are the actions and/ or omissions of those who were supposed to keep him in check in the first place?

  10. Kif inhi din? says:

    What next? Anyone who slaughters a rabbit or a chicken will be sent to Mount Carmel for treatment.

  11. Manuel says:

    Peralta rightfully belongs to the Labour skip.

  12. The Mole says:

    But this appeases the trendy masses that now love the rest of the animal kingdom more than humans. Well, not really, they still want to see the poor guy tortured and killed.

  13. il-Ginger says:

    He had a reason for doing what he did and the reason is that everyone around him let him down. The fact that he held a job meant that all he needed was a little bit of support. That best friend who calmed him down during an episode, that mother who understood him and stuck by him no matter what, that father who encouraged him to take his medicine rather than berate him for doing the opposite and for being a walking wallet to psychiatrists and good company that says a word less rather than two extra to make him feel like a worthless piece of shit.

    Now that Nicholas Grech is isolated from everyone, all he has are the voices in his head. How does that help matters?

    • Francis Saliba M.D. says:

      “Everyone around him let him down” is your bad construction of events.

      Treatment had made him fit to mix openly with society. He interrupted treatment and relapsed as would be expected. It needed this brush with the law to ensure his return to treatment and eventual return to the freedom of mixing freely with other people.

  14. Jozef says:

    Damien Hirst killed cows and horses and had them neatly sectioned and catalogued in crystal aquaria to send a message to society.

    He didn’t end up in indefinite psychiatric treatment.

  15. Natalie says:

    At the risk of seeming to rise to Carol Peralta’s aid, I think that ‘for as long as necessary’ is precisely that. If this gentleman is fit to return living in the community tomorrow, his psychiatrists will do precisely that.

    However patients who skip their medications are sometimes admitted to hospital to restart them on medications again and to make sure that they will receive all the support necessary once they are discharged.

    • Not Sandy:P says:

      You miss the point that a magistrate has no business sending a man to hospital. That is the domain of doctors.

  16. Francis Saliba M.D. says:

    Please do not exclude that Grech will improve so much whilst being treated in hospital that he could be released sooner than any prison sentence

    The real trouble would be what happens next if after being released from hospital he would discontinue treatment and relapse into a state of schizophrenia with paranoid features – a dangerous mixture for the public.

  17. Allo Allo says:

    He didn’t kill the animals. On the other hand he did have the intelligence and presence of mind to practically frame someone else duping many into believing it was Fenech. He was capable of eluding the police for a number of months and to repeat the framing attempt over several months.

  18. David says:

    The magistrate just relied in the experts opinion and applied the law. Tthe defence is happy as he has not been found guilty and hoping he can eventually get out of the mental hospital. I think the prosecution should appeal this decision.

  19. David says:

    I also understand, if I am not mistaken, that Mr Grech and his defence did not contest the charges.

  20. Peppa Pig says:

    Surely he could have been remanded in some half- way home until he is taking his medication regularly and then go back to his present job whilst being descreetly supervised?

  21. A. Cremona says:

    Daphne, I fully concur with your argument. However I find it hard to digest the fact that the animals were already dead. It’s too coincidental that this man had encountered so many dead animals unless he had a daily ritual of endlessly roaming the streets of Mosta. Of course it’s possible but remote.

    [Daphne – The fact is that yes, he did endlessly roam the lanes and country roads round Mosta, apparently on a bicycle. If the court experts said that he didn’t kill the animals, then we are going to have to believe them. I seem to recall one of them being quoted in the press as saying that the multiple fractures were commensurate with being hit by a car. They were collected over a long period and frozen. Also, the incidents occurred over around two and a half years, so it really wasn’t that many dead animals. I think one of the dogs was a fox terrier. There are a lot of them in the area, just running around.]

  22. Joe Fenech says:

    I would gladly sign a petition to send Nicholas home with his mother. I believe he just needs someone who reminds him to take his pills. Anyone who knows him would testify that Nicholas is a harmless person.

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