Former student who shoved University dean breathes a sigh of relief

Sentence mitigated on appeal following 2011 incident on campus

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A former student who had knocked a professor to the ground after rowdy graduation celebrations got out of hand has had his sentence for bodily harm mitigated on appeal.

Glanville Goodlip, from Iklin and now 29 years old, had been handed a six-month jail term suspended for one year over the December 2011 incident.

Mr Goodlip was part of a group of commerce students who struck up a racket outside the Maths and Physics building as they celebrated having graduated.
Science Faculty dean Prof. Charles Sammut had gone outside in an attempt to restore some order.

But Mr Goodlip repeatedly interrupted his speech by blowing a fog horn close to Prof. Sammut’s ear, prompting the academic to snatch the instrument out of the student’s hand.

Mr Goodlip had retaliated by knocking off the professor’s sunglasses and showering him with the contents of a bottle.

As the dean pushed Mr Goodlip away, the latter shoved the professor to the ground.

Prof. Sammut ended up with a fractured left shoulder, a black eye and bruising.
During criminal proceedings, Mr Goodlip’s defence counsel had argued that his client had been provoked, saying that while Mr Goodlip had possibly behaved excessively, he had lacked criminal intent.

Moreover, the defence pointed out that the accused had just started working as an auditor and a conviction would result in his life’s efforts being ruined. “It cannot be said that the accused is a person of bad character of a terror to society. He isn’t a criminal that lost his way in life…”

Upon appeal, the Attorney General pointed out that self-defence could only be successfully pleaded when the threat was inevitable, sudden, actual and absolute. The fact that the dean had grabbed the fog horn and had thrown it to the ground did not excuse the accused’s reaction.

The court of criminal appeal, presided over by Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi concluded that the pleas of legitimate self defence and provocation could not stand in this case.

However, it noted that the other charges, namely that of forming part of an assembly and of breaching the peace did not stand up to scrutiny.

For these reasons the court confirmed the conviction with regards to the bodily harm, concluding that the accused had breached the peace as an individual, but not as part of an assembly. His sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge for three years.

Lawyer Dean Hili was defence counsel.