The Malta Independent 21 March 2023, Tuesday
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‘I killed her… haven’t I told you I killed her?’, Roderick Cassar allegedly told victim's father

Thursday, 16 March 2023, 15:03 Last update: about 4 days ago

“I killed her… haven’t I told you I killed her?” were the shocking words which Roderick Cassar allegedly told the father of his wife and murder victim Bernice Cassar moments after she was killed, a court heard on Wednesday.

This emerged from the testimony of Bernice Cassar’s father – Joseph Cilia – himself, who testified in the compilation of evidence in the case concerning his daughter, who was shot dead last November.

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Roderick Cassar stands accused of killing his wife with a shotgun in broad daylight in Corradino.  He then holed himself up inside the family home and police had to storm the building in order to arrest him.

A tearful Cilia testified before Magistrate Joseph Mifsud that the relationship between Bernice and Roderick had gotten worse over time.

“Once among other times, Bernice phoned me crying and telling me ‘pa, come for me, pa come for me,” Cilia told the court.  He said that on that day he went to the family home in Qrendi to pick her up and found her afraid and crying. 

He testified that he asked Roderick why he had done what he had done, and he answered: “because I’m a volcano, not like you.”

Cilia told the court that Roderick used to use his and Bernice’s son as a weapon and that he used to go home drunk and would take things out on his wife on the basis that she had gone to live with her parents again for a period.

Cilia testified that on Mother’s Day, both he and his wife grew worried as their daughter had not spoken to them for two days.  He testified that it turned out that Bernice had, together with her son, gone crying to her aunt because of an argument that revolved around her not wishing to go on a trip to Gozo with Roderick’s family.

He testified that the argument became violent, and that Roderick shouted at Bernice and struck her and pulled her hair to the point that she wet herself in the house’s common area in front of their children.  Cilia testified that Roderick had also put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her with it during the argument.

The father continued to testify that he told his daughter to report Roderick to the police and go stay with them.  This led Roderick to accused Cilia of “stealing my children” and saying that if he could not enjoy his children, then nobody could.

Cilia testified that Roderick had even told his young daughter that he doesn’t love her because she used to try and protect Bernice.

Once, he continues, Roderick also damaged Bernice’s car after she took the children away from the family home, then telling Bernice that this was “instead of destroying you.”

When a protection order in Bernice’s favour was issued, Cilia testified, Roderick incessantly phoned Bernice and threatened her, leading to her to fear for her life.

When she went to vaccinate the children in Floriana, she found him there and he raised a whole scene in front of the children, he testified.

Cilia testified that the night before Bernice was killed, a report was filed with the police due to Roderick’s threats. 

On that day, he says, Bernice was so afraid that she locked herself for an hour in the bathroom.  She was afraid, he added, because Roderick would tell her “I’ll shoot your head off in front of your father.”

Such was her fear that Bernice once told her daughter that she would be “long underground” before her sixth birthday, the father testified.  He says that he knows all of this because Bernice used to live with him, and because her young daughter used to journal the story of her life.

Cilia recounted the day of the murder, saying that Roderick told him: “I killed her, I killed her… haven’t I already told you I killed her?” and it was here that he burst into tears on the witness stand.

Police constable Jacqueline Chappell also testified during the sitting, saying that in May Bernice Cassar had filed a report with the police’s domestic violence section.

Chappell testified that Bernice had ceased to live in Qrendi and moved back in with her parents in Zebbug.  She said that Bernice had told her that Roderick had taken the children to harass her and to say that he wanted her back so that they could be together as a family.

The constable testified that Cassar had told her that on Mother’s Day, Cassar had threatened her with a knife, and said that she was “nervous and afraid” because Roderick had told her “neither you or me will see the children.”

Forensic expert Martin Bajada meanwhile presented evidence from security camera in the area, saying that the footage shows the accused shooting at Bernice Cassar and then escaping the scene.

At the end of the sitting, the defence requested that the full report of the inquiry carried out by retired judge Geoffrey Valencia – which looked into whether the state had handled the case effectively – be exhibited in the case.

The prosecution has a week to answer to the request.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud is presiding over the case.  Lawyers Franco Debono and Arthur Azzopardi are representing Roderick Cassar, while lawyers Stefano Filletti, Marita Pace Dimech, Ann Marie Cutajar and Rodianne Sciberras and representing the parte civile.

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