The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

Man On trial for third murder: Mangion made ‘serial killer’ joke about his tattoos

Malta Independent Wednesday, 4 July 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

Silvio Mangion – a convicted serial killer – knew exactly what he was doing at the time of murdering a pensioner, his third victim, because he wanted to rob her and permanently silence her, a police inspector told a court yesterday.

Criminal Investigations Department inspector Chris Pullicino was testifying in the Criminal Court against Salvatore Mangion, who is undergoing judicial process to determine whether he was sane enough to face trial for the murder of Maria Stella Magrin. Mangion does not contest having killed the woman, but is pleading insanity. He is already serving two terms for the murder of another two elderly women who he robbed and killed.

The case in question goes back 26 years to 1986. Salvatore (Silvio) Mangion, 47, Żejtun, is due to undergo a trial by jury for the murder of Ms Magrin, when he broke into her residence in Cospicua, stole money and then killed her. The woman, 68, was found dead in a pool of blood and it later transpired that she had suffered 13 stab wounds.

In 2010, Mangion was jailed for life after a jury found him guilty of the murder of Rosina Zammit, 54, who was stabbed in her home in Safi in 1984. She was killed, sustaining 37 stab wounds and in that case too, Mangion was convicted of burglary.

When handing down sentence, Mr Justice Joseph Galea Debono had described Mr Mangion as a serial killer.

He had also been convicted in 2002 for the murder of Francis Caruana and the attempted murder of his sister Guzeppa, in another burglary, in 1998.

Pleading the prosecution’s case, lawyer Nadine Sant on behalf of the state, said Mangion is claiming that at the time of the commission of the crime, he was insane. But the prosecution disagrees, saying that the accused committed the crime in cold blood.

She pointed out this was a cold case until 2005, when while in prison, the accused spoke to a certain Steven Spiteri about his involvement and the latter reported it to the police.

If the accused is considered by the court to be insane, he would not be able to defend himself or follow the case and consequently, a trial will not be held.

When the insanity plea was filed, three psychiatric experts were nominated by the court to examine the accused and they declared that at the moment of crime and even in 2010, he was insane. The prosecution did not agree with the report and asked the same three experts to re-examine him last month.

They recently declared Mangion fit to stand trial and that he is fit and able to understand and follow what is going on.

This is the third time the accused tried to have himself declared insane. He did not manage to prove insanity before and stood trial twice for two other murders.

Taking the witness stand, inspector Chris Pullicino said that when taken in for questioning in 2005, at first Mangion denied involvement. Sometime later, he caved in and gave details.

“This was a cold case and I learnt certain details after the accused explained them to me. Everything was later corroborated by forensic evidence,” he said.

Mangion was asked to take the police to the place of crime in Erin Serracino Inglot Street, Cospicua - a couple of doors down from where former President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici lived. They parked near the Realto and walked through several side streets as the accused and accomplices had done on the day. Moreover, the accused explained the layout of the house, something that according to inspector Pullicino, is difficult if a person would not have entered on another occasion.

Mangion also named his accomplice - Oswaldo Spiteri and details of the case matched. However, while Mangion said Mr Spiteri had stabbed Ms Magrin and took a share of the spoils, Spiteri – who took his own life while in police custody – denied having done so. The third person involved, Leli Spiteri, had also died in 2000.

Mangion said that right after the incident, he gave the clothes he was wearing at the scene of crime, and the knife, to Oswaldo to dispose of them.

In his statement to the police, Mangion said they knocked on the woman´s door and she opened without asking who it was. They demanded she hand over valuables and told her to be quiet. Then they followed her by torchlight because there was no electricity in the house. She gave them a sum of about eur15,000 and she gave it to them. Mangion said they then stabbed her to death. “We wanted to kill her so that she would not identify us because our faces were not covered,” inspector Pullicino quoted from Mangion´s statement.

Mangion also remembered they had left a torch there.

Inspector Pullicino said he and other police officers interrogated Mangion over four days and it was like a conversion was taking place.

It was only at a certain point during court proceedings in 2010 when Mangion stopped the inspector and asked him whether the court would accept his claim if he declared insanity, that the investigation opened up, the inspector said. He added that when Mangion was charged, the inspector asked about the tattoos ´S´and ´K´, on each of his ears and he replied with a smirk they stand for Silvio Kalang – his nickname. But then went on to add: “Aren´t they for serial killer sir?” – he had said.

Discussing the accused´s mental state, inspector Pullicino said the psychiatric experts never asked him anything about Mangion or to see documents related to the case.

Retired Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Cassar said that when giving his statements in 2005, Mangion was acting like a normal person.

“He was reasoning and all he said matched with what we had in our documents,” he said.

Testifying, the psychiatrists who examined him, Ethel Felice, George Debono and Peter Muscat, explained he Mangion began receiving mental health treatment because he was dependent on alcohol and suffered from psychotic paranoia. At the time, he was suffering from chronic schizophrenia and the alcohol had left irreparable damage. He was also a victim of the medicines he was dependent on for so long.

In the 2010 report, they concluded he could not follow proceedings against him.

When they examined him again on 7 June, he needed less medicines, he could concentrate and he was able to make judgement and remember things, they said. His schizophrenia was under control and so were the episodes of depression he suffered from. Memory was good and he was not in a psychotic state.

They concluded that he could follow court proceedings. In cross examination it resulted that the psychiatrists never knew what Mangion was accused of. They said the court decree they received did not say what the case was about.

The case continues. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is representing the accused.

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