The Malta Independent 20 March 2019, Wednesday

Victim of alleged rape described in court as ‘possessive, bossy and ambitious’

Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 10:56 Last update: about 3 months ago

The washroom in which an alleged rape took place was always locked and couldn’t have been opened by anyone but the man who used it to keep birds and other animals there, a judge has been told.

This emerged as the trial of a young man who stands accused of raping his 10 year-old cousin continued yesterday.

A number of defence witnesses described the victim as “possessive, bossy and ambitious.”

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One 85 year-old neighbour testified that she had spent the last 38 years living across the road from the accused’s mother. “Ten floor tiles away.”

“The house, it’s always full of people. It’s like a band club.”

Asked about the girl she said “She doesn’t have a very nice character. She’s ambitious…I hear her speak to her mother, bossing her around. She always wants to be better than everyone.”

People were always coming and going at the house, the door to which would be open most of the time.

The witness said she had known the accused since he was a boy and that he had been going steady with his girlfriend “for many years.” 

Cross-examined by the prosecution, she said the girl would come visit with her parents, eat and leave. “She’s a quiet girl but she’s too ambitious, she wants everyone underneath her,” said the elderly woman again.

The accused would be at work a lot of the time and when he wasn’t he’d be constantly playing games on his games console and the internet.

Asked if she knew what he is accused of she said “I do and I don’t believe it.”

“I’m almost certain, I trust him.”

Another family member told Madame Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera that the accused is living with his girlfriend’s parents at the moment. The witness said he keeps birds in the washroom, locks the gate and keeps the keys on his person, he said. He showed the keys to the court. “One time I left my keys behind and I was going to go crazy…The birds are like my children.”

He had never seen the girl on that floor, he said, claiming that he would spend from dawn to dusk on most days in the room, going out just to buy cigarettes. The accused would go up there every now and then to get a cigarette, he said.

There were many people in the house and the neighbour was constantly coming and going, he said.

The victim was “a bit of a duttura,” said the witness. “If you don’t talk to her she won’t talk to you.”

Next on the stand was the accused’s girlfriend. The accused was currently living with them and had been for the past year since the case began, she said. She knew the family well and they would go to the beach together. She knew the victim, she said. Neither she nor the accused had ever had any fights with the victim, said the witness.

The victim was not close to the accused. “She has a difficult character and would shout at her parents”.

Lawyer Franco Debono told the court that the victim would post complimentary posts on photos of the accused and his girlfriend around 2 years ago. A spirited debate on whether screenshots of the Facebook posts could be exhibited at this stage ensued, with the judge eventually ruling that it was not in the interest of justice to allow it.

Asked how she had reacted to the rape claim, she replied: “At first I was shocked but then I said it couldn’t be true. He is always at home, the house is full of people and very small.

[The victim] is very possessive and loves attention, “she’d refuse food at table so people would say ‘eat something, pretty girl.’”

 

Another relative, the father of the twins allegedly present during one instance of abuse, said his children had never told him that they had seen anything amiss. The girl is jealous and possessive, he said. “She wants to command her parents. She would talk and reason, but if she wants something she’d carry on until she got it.”

Testifying via video conferencing, another young cousin of the accused told the court that his aunt would sometime visit without the girl being there. She would come to visit on Sundays for lunch and that’s the only time she and the accused would be together, he said.

The accused would constantly be on the playstation and the witness said he’d be with him. Would the girl be there too? “Rarely, if she’d be near us she’d be on the mobile to be close to the internet router”

It was always my mum putting my siblings to bed. “I wouldn’t talk much to [the victim] because she had a proud character and I didn’t get along with her much.”

Asked why he had blocked her on Facebook, he said he didn’t trust her. “I didn’t want her to invent something else.”

He had only heard her version of events from the news, he said. From the day she accused his cousin, he never spoke to her.

“When she didn’t get what she wanted she’d shout at her parents. She’s very possessive and jealous of her younger sister who gets special treatment because she is lactose intolerant.

“For example she boasted with me that she had passed maths when I had failed. Then her sister told me that she had failed and was crying all night.”

“Before the case, we were a united family…now I personally don’t speak to the victim’s family or her. I don’t trust them. It’s a lie, it’s impossible that it happened. The grandmother’s place is very small and on Saturday we’d be a lot of people. The mirror makes everywhere visible.”

“I expected her to do something like this. She hadn’t been turning up at nanna’s for a while.”

The case continues today.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Anita Giordmaina are defending the accused.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb, Nadia Attard and Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.

 

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