Sex-assault victim was told she would be shot if she stepped out of her car, court hears

A man who offered to help start her stalled car, sexually assaulted the woman before driving away with her vehicle

A woman has described in court how a man who offered to help start her stalled car, sexually assaulted her before driving away with her vehicle.

The traumatised woman took the witness stand before magistrate Nadine Lia this morning, as the compilation of evidence against 30 year-old Jeffery Varghese continued.

Varghese, of St. Paul’s Bay, is accused of committing a non-consensual sexual act on the woman, holding her against her will, and with stealing and damaging her car.

The incident took place on 24 August at around 7:30pm at St. Paul’s Bay.

The alleged victim took the stand today, explaining that her car had stopped in a road in Qawra that day. She was having difficulty restarting the engine, she said.

The accused had been passing by and had offered to help the woman start her car, she said.

“He got in and managed to start the engine and then started to drive away.” The woman had quickly hopped into the passenger seat and demanded that the man stop the car.

Instead, she said, he started to put his hands all over her and tried to pull her on top of him. The woman tried to get out of the car several times, “but he kept pulling me back in. Then he told me ‘they’ would shoot me if I got out of the car. I was screaming at him to stop.”

The victim finally managed to escape from the car, screaming at a passer-by to call the police. The car-jacker then drove off, she said.

Police later found the damaged car in the vicinity.

Also testifying today was the woman’s partner, who said that she had been using his car. “I got a phone call from her after the incident and she told me what had happened, so I called the police,” he said.

Asked on what she recounted to him, he explained that “somebody got in the car with her and molested her. She was threatened,” he said.

The victim’s partner told her to go to the nearest police station, while he called 112. “The scariest part is that he told her three times that she would be shot,” he said.

By the time he got to the police station, the accused had already been apprehended, he said.

The car had a large dent, a broken headlamp and was leaking oil when he picked it up, he said. A mechanic had estimated the damage would cost some €700 to repair, added the man.

The case continues.

Inspector Ryan Vella is prosecuting. Lawyer Robert Piscopo is defence counsel.