Iklin shooting: ‘I did it. I fired the shots’, accused told police

Victim of Iklin shooting arrested by Police for trying to solicit money in exchange for changing version of events

Scenes from the shooting aftermath (Photo:James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Scenes from the shooting aftermath (Photo:James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

A court has been told how a man accused of a shooting in Iklin had admitted to the crime immediately and that the Police had also arrested the victim, whilst he was still in hospital, after receiving information that he had been trying to solicit money in exchange for changing his version of events in the investigation.

Magistrate Monica Vella continued to hear evidence in the case against Ryan Sultana on Tuesday.  Sultana, 24, of Iklin stands charged with shooting and grievously injuring a 55-year-old man, in a dispute thought to revolve around fraud. The victim, fraudster Vincent Xuereb, known by his nickname of “Ċensu 'L-Oranġjo,” was shot multiple times outside Sultana’s house, leaving him grievously wounded.

Sultana was arraigned in September, accused of firing three shots at the man, using a shotgun. He was charged with grievous bodily harm, carrying a firearm during the commission of an offence against the person, causing Xuereb to fear violence, attacking Xuereb and exceeding the limits of provocation. He is also accused of failing to store his licenced shotgun in a proper manner, and violating the conditions of his licence.
Sultana was further charged with breaching the peace and misuse of electronic communications equipment.

Testifying before magistrate Monica Vella this morning, Inspector Wayne Camilleri told the court that when police arrived at the scene of the shooting, they had found the victim in the road, covered in blood and crying for help.

Two RIU officers knocked on the door at Ryan Sultana’s home in Iklin and Sultana emerged. He had not attempted to deny shooting him. He had immediately told police “I did it. I fired the shots.” He was administered the caution and arrested.

RIU officers entered the residence Sultana had emerged from in order to conduct a search. A shotgun was found on the living room sofa, said the inspector, adding that the accused had later told the police that it was the weapon used in the crime.

A police constable was stationed to guard the weapon, which was left as found for crime scene officers to document, he said.

Two family members also came out of the house, telling the police that they knew Vincent Xuereb, whom they described as a well-known fraudster. They had said that they were sure that he had taken some €7000 from Ryan. Xuereb was promising to obtain a government flat for him but nothing came of his promises, added the inspector.

Eventually, duty Magistrate Nadine Lia arrived at the scene together, with SOCO and ballistics experts.

Shotgun pellet marks were noted on the wall of a house near the scene, the inspector said. Witness testimony started being collected by a court-appointed expert and CCTV camera downloads were taken into evidence.

Ryan Sultana was taken into custody and gunshot residue tests were taken.

On 10 September 2021, the day after the shooting, at around 10am, the inspector and a sergeant had gone to speak to Vincent Xuereb who was being treated in hospital. They found him in a bed, guarded by police officers. He was able to speak and told the inspector that he had known the accsued for around 10 years. They were supposed to go visit a doctor that day but had a trivial argument over the phone, Xuereb told the police. At 3:30pm he went to pick Ryan up.

Whilst the police were taking down Xuereb’s version of events, the inspector received information that Xuereb had been approaching people and asking for money to change his version of events.

He was immediately arrested and his mobile phone was seized for analysis, said the inspector.

Ryan Sultana was also interrogated, in the presence of lawyer Arthur Azzopardi. The court was given a copy of the audiovisual recording of Sultana’s questioning today.

Sultana had cooperated with the police and admitted to shooting Xuereb, but said he had shot at him because he was scared of him. He said he had noted Xuereb was carrying something black in his hand and was afraid. Ryan claimed to be returning home from a hunting excursion and had his shotgun in his car, so he had decided to use it to scare off Xuereb. Sultana admitting to having fired 3 shots but denied intending to hit Xuereb. He fired high, he said.

Asked about an alleged €7000 loan from the victim that the police had found out about, he had denied receiving money from Xuereb, inspector Camilleri said.

Prosecuting lawyer George Camilleri for the Attorney General asked the inspector what Sultana had said when confronted with the fact that Xuereb had wounds to his face and hands. “He said he knew he fired three shots but hadn’t aimed at him. He fired the shots to frighten him off, he said.” Sultana claimed to have fired the shots in the air and didn’t know how Vincent was hit.

Cross-examined by lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, the inspector confirmed that he had passed on the information gleaned from Sultana, about Xuereb being a fraudster, to the FCID for further investigation.

Asked by Azzopardi, Inspector Camilleri confirmed that the accused had said there could have been a defect in the shotgun ammunition causing it to go lower than the point of aim.

Azzopardi asked whether the fixed point guard remained in place at the scene of the crime after the experts had finished their work. They had not, said the inspector, who said he was present for most of the time that the experts were examining the scene. He handed over to inspector Charlot Casha when he had to leave, he said.

The prosecuting lawyer asked how long the scene had been preserved for at the time of interrogation. “It was preserved…released that night, 9 September and interrogation took place the next day.”

Ryan was confused and disturbed when he was arrested and so it was decided to interrogate him the next day, said the inspector.

No further questions were asked to the witness, and the court sent the acts of the case to the Attorney General. The case continues in January.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi is defence counsel.

Lawyer George Camilleri and Inspector Wayne Camilleri are prosecuting.