Psychiatrist to testify on mental state of man charged with rape of 15-year-old girl

Psychiatric expert to testify on statement given to police whilst affected by mental health conditions  

A psychiatric expert treating a man awaiting trial for the rape of a 15-year-old girl, will testify on his claims of having given police a statement whilst afflicted by several mental health conditions.

49-year-old Robert Rodenas of Swieqi was charged with raping the young girl in 2017. The girl was in his care at the time.

In an application filed before the Criminal Court in August, Rodenas claimed to be suffering from a number of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety and asked that a court expert be appointed to examine the mental state of the accused, both currently as well as at the time he made certain declarations to the police.

The declarations had been made in circumstances which amplified his mental health conditions and had been made after he had allegedly renounced his right to legal assistance.

Rodenas contests the latter assertion, saying that he had “effectively and really not done this.”

“The criminal code was promulgated in 1854 and certainly does not always contemplate the developments and realities faced today, particularly where mental health and other conditions which the accused is afflicted with are involved, which do not always give rise to insanity, but still leave their effect on the judicial process. His lawyer asked the court to appoint a psychiatric expert to establish the man’s psychiatric state at the time when he was giving his statements.

The Attorney General had objected to the request, arguing that no medical expert would be able to establish a person’s psychiatric condition three years after the fact.

Madame Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera noted that the accused had claimed that two recordings and all his statements were inadmissible as they had been taken before he consulted with a lawyer and without a lawyer being present during his interrogation.

According to the accused, when taking into account his mental state after the shock of being arrested together with his clinical depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, he was not reminded that he had the right to consult with a lawyer and to be assisted. This rendered them a hindrance to a fair hearing, he argued, asking that they be expunged from the acts of the case.

The judge observed that it would be wiser to hear the man’s current psychiatrist, before ruling on the need for another psychiatric expert to be appointed. She also reserved the right to make further pronouncements on this request at a later stage of proceedings.

Lawyers Michael Sciriha and Joanne Farrugia appeared for the defendant.

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