The Malta Independent 30 July 2021, Friday

Police sergeant accused of rape contacted witness from prison without permission, court hears

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 12:18 Last update: about 2 months ago

A police officer accused of raping the victim of a burglary he went to investigate, may have illicitly communicated with a witness after his arrest, a court has heard today.

Magistrate Gabriella Vella presided over the compilation of evidence against former police sergeant Glenn Carabott, 40 when it resumed this morning.

Carabott stands charged with rape, non-consensual sexual acts, taking a video of the non-consensual encounter, sexual harassment and committing a crime he was duty bound to prevent. He had filmed a 12 second clip of the alleged victim giving him oral sex, the court was told.

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During today’s sitting, the magistrate heard a prosecution witness testify to having spoken to the accused without permission whilst he was in police custody.

The witness, a woman whose name is being withheld in compliance with a court order, said she had known the accused for around a year to 18 months at the time of his arrest. He was a friend of her son and she was helping Carabott care for an elderly relative, she said.

The witness would call Carabott regularly, claimed the woman.

Prodded by Inspector Spiteri, she said that on the night before his arrest, on the 17th April, she had received a phone call from the accused at 2:15am, she said.

“What was said?” asked the inspector.

“That night I heard my front door shaking. My son told me that Glen was probably at work, so I called him and he said he was dealing with a break-in at the time and couldn’t come.”

She hadn’t called the police station, she said. Later in her testimony, the woman said the noise was “probably down to the strong winds blowing at the time."

Inspector John Spiteri asked the witness again about the 2am phone call. “As far as I know, I had called him and I’m not sure if he had called me back to say he couldn’t come,” she said. 

It emerged in court that the woman had also spoken to Carabott whilst he was in preventive custody and had not asked permission to do so. Pressed by the prosecution, the woman admitted that Carabott had called her up on occasion on her home phone. The subject of the conversation was his elderly mother, she claimed.

The magistrate was not convinced by her inconsistent testimony, querying why she hadn't called the police station if she had been so scared of the shaking door noises. The court warned the witness that the consequences of perjury were serious.

The woman’s testimony became even more confused, however, with her then stating that Carabott had come over “at around 2:15am.” “Did he visit before the phone call?” asked Spiteri, exasperated.

The inspector then asked the court to appoint a technical expert to access the prison’s phone system and take into evidence the records and recordings of phone calls between the accused and third parties, bar his lawyer – which communications are legally privileged. Spiteri also requested a transcriber be appointed to transcribe these phone calls.

Spiteri exhibited a series of emails between himself and a relative of the accused, allowing her to visit the accused in prison. The relative had requested that the witness be allowed to visit Carabott too, but this had been rejected by the inspector, as she was going to testify, he explained.

Police Inspector Michael Vella took the stand next, telling the court how the report had been made and handled by the police. “There was a break in and a burglary.” His Superintendent had also told him that when a police sergeant had gone to the scene there was a possible sexual encounter. Drugs were suspected as being involved as the victim was a user, added the officer.

Carabott was arrested and interrogated. He had said that he had gone to investigate the report alone, in violation of standard operating procedures but had denied the allegation of rape, Inspector Vella said. The victim had handed police a soiled tissue and a shirt which the accused had allegedly wiped himself off with and then rinsed in the sink. These were passed on to a DNA expert.

A tracker installed on Carabott’s police car said his car had gone to the scene for around an hour at the time of the alleged incident.

Carabott later showed police a 12 second video clip of the victim giving him oral sex. A police issued belt, taser, and sidearm were visible in the footage, Vella said.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi asked Vella whether he had looked into whether the victim had ever made any similar reports in the past. “Soldiers, civil protection, civilians?” The police had not done so, replied the inspector.

The case continues in July.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Charmaine Cherrett are defence counsel.

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