Prosecutors lambasted by court for lack of evidence in rape case

Police lambasted by court for prosecuting rape case before collecting all evidence

A court cleared a man of raping a Miss Universe contestant, after the victim said she had been drunk at the time, in a judgment lambasting the prosecution for effectively basing its case on a single chat.

The 18-year-old man was arraigned in July 2019 after the girl and her lawyer, Lara Dimitriyevic, filed a police report saying she had been raped in 2016 when celebrating her birthday with her friends.

The woman told the police that after a night out drinking, she had woken up naked next to the accused, a co-worker. She gave the police a copy of a chat downloaded from her mobile phone in which she had spoken with the accused, who therein described the occasion as the “best night of his life”.

The victim, described in the judgment as a former Miss Universe contestant, testified via videoconferencing in August 2019, telling the court that on the night she had been blacking out. She was then taken by taxi to the accused’s apartment, where the sexual encounter had taken place.

In a blistering cross-examination by lawyer Giannella De Marco, the woman admitted that the accused had told her it was his first sexual encounter, creating doubt as to how drunk she really was. Friends of hers who testified in court, said she had at most “a bit tipsy” and not blackout-drunk.

But the court insisted that a sexual encounter fuelled by voluntary intoxication does not a rape make. “Had she been insensible, or drugged by the accused, it would have been a different matter,” the court said.

The defence also set much store by the fact that the woman had posted Instagram pictures of herself in the bath, and built an almost predatory picture of the victim. Additionally, the court heard that she had invited the accused as her guest to a wedding the moment he had split up with his girlfriend.

The accused also told the court he had been sharing the Swatar flat’s bedroom with a male friend, who left when the girl started to press her body on him and climbed into bed with him. The accused claimed he told his friend to help her unzip her dress, while he went to brush his teeth. When he returned he found the woman in her bra and panties. “I wasn’t expecting to see her like that… At that moment I became confused and embarrassed… I wasn’t expecting that in my room. And I found her laughing and flirting with [his friend] and giving him a goodnight kiss.”

When his friend left, the woman started to passionately kiss the accused, putting her hand down his shorts. He said she told him: “Are we going to have sex or what?” he said. The accused then revealed that he was still a virgin, but that the woman was clearly happy to be his first lover. The two briefly had intercourse and spent the night together. “I am hurt by the fact that she instigated everything. She had the choice, she chose to come in the taxi with us… she came all the way home with us, she decided to get into bed with me.”

Magistrate Joe Mifsud agreed with the defence, and said the prosecution had not collected all evidence before pressing charges. “It is greatly irresponsible that a person is arraigned over a case which allegedly occurred three years before, yet all investigations had not yet been carried out.”

Names were withheld at the order of the court. Lawyers Giannella De Marco and Stephen Tonna Lowell were defence counsel.

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