The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
View E-Paper

Mosta man charged with killing animals, desecrating religious sites

Malta Independent Thursday, 20 March 2014, 18:29 Last update: about 11 years ago

Nicholas Grech, a 37-year old from Mosta, was arraigned tonight in connection with the affixing of dead animals in his hometown over a period of time spanning from November 2011 and last month.

Grech, an engineer at Enemalta Corporation, was insulted by a group of people as the police car drove up Santa Lucia Street to the back end of the court room. The man, wearing flip-flops, covered his face as he was driven past. He was charged with animal cruelty in a case that drew unprecedented media attention. The charges included the killing of domestic animals and desecrating religious sites. The police produced keys that they said Grech produced to enter churches and crypts.

The accused pleaded not guilty and was sent for treatment at Mount Carmel Hospital. 

He is assisted by legal aid Martin Fenech.

Reports in the media this morning, including The Malta Independent, said that the police were close to solving the case of the Mosta serial cat killer, with the crimes spanning several months starting in November 2011 and ending with the last crucifixion last month.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Police Deputy Commissioner Ray Zammit said that the man had been under suspicion for more than a year.

Mr Zammit said that a number of persons had been under suspicion but investigators had narrowed the suspect list down “by elimination.”

On Wednesday morning police officers conducted a search in a Mosta residence, where the suspect, 37, lived with his parents. Mr Zammit said that the environment the suspect lived in was “not normal.”

A computer was among a number of objects elevated by investigators. Police officers also found two live cats in the house. The suspect claimed that they were pets.

“Patience won,” said Mr Zammit, who insisted that the police had investigated every bit of information given by the public. He also thanked the Environment Ministry and Local Councils for their cooperation.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the suspect had admitted to some aspects of the crimes but it could not say whether the man will be charged with animal cruelty. The animals that were found nailed to crosses appeared to have been strays, but it was not clear if the man had actually killed them. Autopsies on some of the animals found that some had broken bones.

The suspect was probably involved in all 11 cases and it is thought that he wrote the notes that were found on some of the carcasses. When asked if other persons could be involved, Mr Zammit said that the police are not excluding anything and the case is still under investigation.

He also confirmed that the suspect knew Frangisku Buhagiar, the man who was initially thought to be the perpetrator, but the two are not related.

Mr Zammit was asked if footage of the Mosta animal killer had led to information from the public. The Malta Independent was first to release footage of the man back in February. Mr Zammit said that the police had received thousands of comments from Maltese persons as well as tourists.  Investigators had followed every lead, even if some information given by members of the public was not correct.

He also denied that the police issued their own CCTV videos because they were pressured by the media, insisting that the footage was released because investigators thought that "the time was right."

Sections of the media have reported that the man suffers from mental health issues. Whilst not confirming this, Mr Zammit said that one of the reasons behind the cases could have been attention by the media.

The Deputy Commissioner also declined to comment on whether the suspect had any criminal cases in the past but insisted that he has no pending cases.

  • don't miss