The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Teenage girl remanded in custody on charges of biting police officer

Monday, 30 July 2018, 17:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

An irascible young girl who bit a police inspector and injured another 3 officers has been remanded in custody.

The 15-year-old from Cospicua, who cannot be named on account of her age, was already on bail for a separate offence. She repeatedly screamed and pushed away police officers outside the courtroom both before and after her arraignment.

She was arraigned before magistrate Gabriella Vella this morning on charges of having attacked a number of police officers, slightly injuring four of them, insulting and threatening the officers, damaging two uniforms, disobeying legitimate police orders, breaching the peace, swearing in public and breaching three of her bail conditions.

The girl refused to speak to her court-appointed legal aid lawyer, insisting on being represented by lawyer Antonio Depasquale who was then summoned to the courtroom. Whilst waiting for the lawyer, the girl made a scene outside the courtroom after police refused to give her a lighter so she could smoke.

Lawyers Antonio Depasquale and Raisa Colombo explained the circumstances behind the case to magistrate Charmaine Galea.

This girl, who has a drug problem, needed a lot of help, but wanted to move forward in life, said the lawyers. “The system must give us some help. She fell through the cracks.”

The girl’s probation officer said she was under two probation orders and had been given a lot of help both at the Young Offenders Unit Rehabilitation Services (YOURS) facility in Mtahleb and outside. There she was being schooled and taught life skills and anger management, with access to social workers and drug counsellors. But she had breached both orders and was keeping bad company in spite of the probation services’ efforts, said the probation officer. Social workers were worried that she was going to turn up dead one of these days, the court was told. At one point she had run away and ended up in hospital.

“15-year-olds are a problem. What we can offer is outreach and one to one sessions. But at this stage she needs to be contained,” the probation officer said. “She must be contained at YOURS or we will find her dead somewhere.”

Inspector Chetcuti added that she had been told to stay at home and sign a bail book at regular intervals but had failed to do either, frequently being found outside her house.

Depasquale said the girl’s long-suffering mother was a responsible person who wanted the best for her daughter. He asked if the bail conditions could be changed.

The girl also told the court that she would gain nothing from YOURS and asked the court to send her to drug rehabilitation where she could receive the help she needed.

A social worker who had been following her from December 2016. “She knows how to choose good from bad, but whenever she leaves prison she falls back into bad habits and touches new lows. The people she hangs out with in Cospicua are older and involved in criminal activity,” said the social worker. “Outside she is chaotic.” The girl wasn’t sleeping at home recently, she added.

The accused had initially pleaded guilty but later reversed her plea mid-hearing and requested bail.

The girl’s mother was asked to testify for bail purposes, but declined.

Inspector Chetcuti insisted that the girl be sent to Corradino. “I’m sorry but this girl is not trustworthy. It would be a better option, even for the mother.”
“Lilek nifqak” hissed the girl, turning to her mother.

Depasquale argued that bail should not be withheld as a punishment for the girl’s alleged actions.

The girl piped up again, saying that she had failed to sign her bail book only once and claimed not to know what the police were talking about regards her attacking them.

Bail was refused. The prison authorities were instructed to give the girl all the assistance she needed.

As she was being escorted out of the courtroom, the girl refused to be handcuffed, letting loose a torrent of abuse and pushing inspector Chetcuti, screaming “I’ll bite you like I bit them!” She was eventually coaxed into putting the cuffs on and was led away.

The case will continue before the juvenile court.

Inspectors Christabelle Chetcuti and Eman Hayman prosecuted. Lawyer Antonio Depasquale was defence counsel.


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