Mintoff Bland stabbing | Son says attacker ‘didn’t appear to be wounded’

Son of knife attack victim Yana Mintoff Bland told a court that the man accused of stabbing him and his mother did not appear to be wounded at the time of the incident

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
9 August 2017, 2:30pm
Popa is accused of detaining Mintoff Bland against her will, attempting to grievously injure her and slightly injuring her and her son with a bladed instrument
Popa is accused of detaining Mintoff Bland against her will, attempting to grievously injure her and slightly injuring her and her son with a bladed instrument
Daniel Mainwaring, son of knife attack victim Yana Mintoff Bland has told a court that the man accused of stabbing him and his mother did not appear to be wounded at the time of the incident.

“My interaction was very brief. I ran in the room, he stabbed me and I left the room...If he had five stab wounds at the time, I would have probably noticed, but I can't say for sure,” Daniel Mainwaring told magistrate Joe Mifsud this morning, as he was cross-examined by a lawyer defending Mintoff Bland's former partner Gheorghe Popa.

Popa – who police found hiding in a tree behind the Tarxien villa, nursing multiple stab wounds – has been charged with attacking the two in a fit of paranoid rage.

Popa is accused of detaining Mintoff Bland against her will, attempting to grievously injure her and slightly injuring her and her son with a bladed instrument in an incident thought to have been sparked by jealousy. Popa is also charged with carrying a weapon during the commission of a crime against the person, carrying a knife in public without a police licence, attacking Mintoff Bland and her son with a knife and uttering verbal threats.

The prosecution insist that the man's injuries were self-inflicted.

Lawyer Benjamin Valenzia, defending Popa, pointed to the man's claim to have heard the scuffle and asked the witness how he had distinguished “the sound of a body slamming 100m away, while playing the ukulele.”

“I wasn't playing all the time. I was able to hear banging,” Mainwaring said, recalling that it took him between 30 seconds and a minute to arrive at the scene. “I was walking at first...I probably ran the last bit.”

Valenzia referred to his testimony in which he said that he could hear his mother gasping. He managed to get there right in time, the lawyer observed. “That's what happened, yes,” the witness replied. “I had an instinctive reaction. I head my mother pleading and it was clear that she was in a desperate situation.”

“My initial reaction to run in there was purely defensive...I correctly thought that something was wrong. Gheorghe Popa was trying to kill her and had stabbed her in the chest.”

Mainwaring was unable to remember in which hand the man had been holding the knife, but said he thought it was right hand because of the injuries he suffered.

The witness had described Popa as unstable, lacking empathy and verbally aggressive, the lawyer said. “Did he ever do any physically aggressive things?” he asked.

“I found him to be physically possessive of my mother...I never saw him committing an act of physical violence against my mother. There were a number of occasions in which he was aggressive.”

The witness said he hadn't confronted the accused about this, describing the accused as not the type of person one could reason with. “He [Popa] was unable to engage in normal empathetic conversation.”

Valenzia asked Mainwaring if he had taken anything with him to help defend his mother. “It happened as I had described it. We have been doing this for months now. My interaction was very brief. I ran in the room, he stabbed me and I left the room...If he had five stab wounds at the time, I would have probably noticed, but I can't say for sure.”

Lawyer Joe Giglio, appearing as parte civile for Mintoff Bland cross-examined. Popa would speak in English to him and his mother, he said. “All of our functional interactions were in English.”

A police sergeant from Paola police station was next to testify. He had been present for the accused's statement after his arrest. “Had there been an interpreter present?” Valenzia asked. “No,” the officer replied.

Giglio reprised, asking if there had been any difficulty in communication. “No, he was talking to us in English.” He had not expressed a wish to be assisted by an interpreter, the officer said.

A Scene of Crime Officer who testified next, was asked whether he was given any direction in collecting evidence.

There was an element of permission needed, he said. “I can't go, see blood and go take samples.”

Valenzia indicated a picture of the bedroom and asked if he had taken samples of blood from there. The officer said he hadn't. Blood samples had been taken from the stairs, however.

Giglio asked if the way the officer had worked was any different from how he had conducted himself in previous cases. He replied in the negative.

The court announced that it will be hearing forensic experts Dr. Mario Scerri and Dr. Marisa Cassar testify in the last sitting on 12 September before declaring evidence closed.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...