salesman who stood charged with cutting a colleague across the face with a champagne glass after testosterone levels rose during celebratory drinks was let off because he was found to have acted in self-defence.
The police failed to produce witnesses who could have shed more light on the case, the magistrate remarked in her judgment.
The incident started with a show of bravado at La Palma Pub in St Paul’s Bay in October 2007. The accused, Peter Seed, 48, of Mellieħa and his colleague, James Hannan, both British, were out celebrating successful results as guests of their boss, accompanied by other colleagues.
The two men had bought three bottles of champagne costing about €160, which their boss had given them to buy drinks, when an argument broke out between them over who was the better performer.
All of a sudden, Mr Seed smashed a glass in his face, Mr Hannan testified in court.
“My memory flashes back at what I describe... it felt like a wet slap and then I turned and saw and focused on Peter Seed. He had a glass in his hand, it was a broken glass,” the witness said. “He then struck me again and I shielded myself by raising my right arm over my face. I was struck again and I also have stitches in this part of my body.”
Mr Hannan has a scar stretching from his left ear to his mouth, which a doctor testified was likely to be permanent.
The version the victim had given to the police was slightly different, the court pointed out. In his statement, he had said Mr Seed first broke a glass on a table and pointed it at his face.
In his own testimony, Mr Seed said that when Mr Hannan turned up at the bar he started bragging that he was better at the job than the accused. Mr Hannan suggested they bet their Christmas bonus on who was the better salesman.
The victim then put his face very close to that of the accused, backed away and hurled a punch at him, to which Mr Seed instinctively raised his arms to protect himself. As Mr Hannan moved towards him, the glass shattered on his face, the accused testified.
With blood pouring down his face, Mr Hannan challenged him to a fight outside and had to be restrained by the barman, Mr Seed added.
Magistrate Jacqueline Padovani noted the accused and the victim had said there were at least 20 people present at the time, yet not even the barman, who would have been a pertinent witness, was called to testify.
The magistrate said that after taking into consideration all the circumstances and the testimony, she found that Mr Seed had acted in self-defence. Although he had exceeded acceptable limits, this was understandable as he had been taken unawares.