The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

Man accused of raping girlfriend's mother, denied bail

Friday, 8 February 2019, 14:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

A man has been denied bail after he was arraigned over a case of sexual abuse, allegedly involving the occult.

The 18-year-old Cospicua resident, who cannot be named on the orders of the court, was accused of the rape of a vulnerable woman – the mother of his girlfriend – as well as with causing her and another vulnerable woman – her daughter - to perform sexual acts against their will, violent indecent assault on a person who was unable to resist, holding the women against their will and forcing them to perform acts contrary to their decency, slightly injuring them.

He was further accused of causing his girlfriend’s sister and her mother to fear violence and with participating in sexual activities with a 15 year-old girl in the same family, who is understood to be his girlfriend.

The accused, who is unemployed, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Inspector Eman Hayman told magistrate Rachel Montebello that the police were contacted by the accused’s girlfriend who had been living, together with the accused, at her mother’s home since December. She complained that the accused had violently mistreated her and exhibited controlling behaviour.

The inspector explained in more detail. “When I say ‘control’, I mean that the mother has a hobby of practising the occult. The control would happen because the accused would play on her superstitions by saying that she had opened the door to the devil. He took advantage of her. He would use a particular voice. This was all done to satisfy the man’s sexual fantasies. He would manipulate the woman, giving her all types of commands, ranging from the simple to the sexual.

“He would give the girl commands to have sex with her mother,” the inspector went on. “On one occasion he had ordered the daughter to penetrate her mother with an object, but the daughter could not and so he did it himself,” said the inspector.

Defence lawyer Jason Azzopardi requested the court to appoint a psychiatric expert to examine the alleged victims to establish a picture of the medico-psychiatric state of the women before they testify. “It is, we think, vital to establish the true chronology and nature of the facts. One woman was in Mount Carmel Hospital several times.”

Defence lawyer Kris Busietta explained that the defence was informed that the mother had “been admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital around 20-25 times, but we don’t know why. They are the primary witnesses in this case, in order to be able to question the witnesses we need to know their condition,” he said.

The prosecution objected vociferously, however, saying that the defence was attempting to intimidate the witnesses and reduce their credibility. If the court had any doubt about the witnesses it can appoint an expert on its own steam, said the inspectors.

The court, after hearing the submissions on the request, denied the request. Whilst the alleged victims can be vulnerable witnesses, the court said that this state must be taken into consideration that it can appoint the expert it feels necessary to assist the victims during their deposition and leave any the court.

Tempers flared when Inspector Hayman requested a technological expert to preserve any possible video evidence of the alleged abuse. The inspector said that the victim had told the court that the accused had wanted to film some of the activity.

Azzopardi said that the defence, as it had no fear of the truth coming out, did not object to the request of the prosecution. Busietta also replied to the inspector, saying that the defence was trying to get to the truth and accusing the other side of being afraid of the conclusions of the expert.

The defence requested bail. “Neither I nor my colleagues have ever met such a case in over 22 years,” Azzopardi said. “It requires particular attention because the occult is involved. This was not a mere hobby, an exorcist had been summoned and had to celebrate mass in the property. Objects flew, voices in strange languages were heard. The root of the claims is this and this is why there are certain injuries. The accused had been on police bail since last month, had he wanted to speak to one of the witnesses, he had ample time to do that, even though he does not need to,” said the lawyer.

The court should not take the charges at face value, said Azzopardi, reminding that the accused was presumed innocent and that the law was restrictive on when bail should be refused.

Moreover, the lawyer observed that no magisterial inquiry had been requested by the police in a case which carried up to 11 years imprisonment.

The court, after hearing submissions, denied the request for bail due to the real risk of tampering with evidence and the fact that no evidence appeared to have been preserved, as well as due to the vulnerability of the alleged victims.

The court also issued a protection order for the benefit of the alleged victims in the case.

Inspectors Eman Hayman and Oriana Spiteri prosecuted. Lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia were defence counsel.

 

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