The Malta Independent 9 May 2021, Sunday

Woman who admitted perjury did so 'out of fear of losing custody of her children', court hears

Mathias Mallia Monday, 9 May 2016, 13:28 Last update: about 5 years ago

A woman who pled guilty to perjury said today that she did so because she thought that it would affect the custody of her children. The perjury was committed during a case against her estranged partner who stood accused of running over a woman with a bus in 2008 in St Paul’s Bay.

Maria Louise Pearson this morning said that mere moments before she entered the courtroom to testify in 2013, her ex-partner had approached her and forced her to lie and say she had been a passenger in the bus at the time of the accident, even though she was not really present. “I followed his instructions fearing I would lose custody of my children if I did not follow his orders,” she said in her testimony.

Her ex-partner and former bus driver, Massimo Bonello, 42 was charged in being an accomplice in perjury and corrupting the witness into giving a false testimony in the separate proceedings presided by Magistrate Audrey Demicoli.

The original case in 2013 saw Mr Bonello being acquitted of charges brought against him for running over Inna Said who had spent more than 17 days in hospital with head injuries. The only charge he wasn’t acquitted of was of driving without a licence, for which he was fined €150. The case was re-considered in February 2016 when Ms Pearson was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to committing perjury.

Ms Pearson was summoned this morning to testify again, this time against her ex-partner who is denying these charges. Police Inspector Kylie Borg, who led the prosecution, told the court that it was Mrs Said’s husband who raised suspicions of perjury and filed a criminal application against the Ms Pearson.

The witness explained that she had lied under oath three years ago saying that Mr Bonello was just a friend when she had actually been in a relationship with him which led to the birth of a child in 2006. She had also said that Mr Bonello was driving at 30km/h and that she immediately left the scene after the incident. Ms Pearson said she panicked as she made up her testimony out of fear of losing custody of her child since her ex used to threaten to file a report to remove custody every time they got into an argument after they broke up in 2008.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea presided over the case, while Lawyer John Bonello led the defence. 

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