Man charged with threatening to shoot wife and son weeps in court: ‘I’ve always loved them’

Accused acted aggressively towards couple’s 18-year-old son, subequently threatening to shoot his wife after she intervened

A 50-year-old man was charged with causing his wife and son to fear violence and threatening them
A 50-year-old man was charged with causing his wife and son to fear violence and threatening them

A 50-year-old man from Birkirkara accused of threatening to shoot his wife and son during a row with his family late last night, fought back tears when told one of his other children was on his way to deliver his bail deposit to court.

Police Inspector Sherona Buhagiar told duty magistrate Leonard Caruana that at 2am on Thursday, she had been informed by the Domestic Violence Unit that reports had been filed by the man’s wife, that the accused had been aggressive towards the couple’s 18 year-old son at 11pm that night.

The wife had gone to see what happened and the accused threatened to shoot her, together with other threats towards her property, she said.

The mother and son told police that they were afraid to return home.

The man was charged with causing his wife and son to fear violence would be used against them and threatening them, and of carrying an unlicensed firearm in public and causing damage to his wife’s property.

The inspector told the court that in a separate incident last year, the man had threatened to shoot himself in a video call he made to his wife. The man had promised his wife that he would seek medical treatment, but had failed to keep this promise.

After filing her police report, the woman said she found a saw on her bed. The prosecution exhibited a photograph showing the saw, but the accused’s defence lawyer pointed out that it was simply a picture of a saw – which was not on a bed as described by the accusor – and with no context.

Three hunting shotguns were seized from the accused’s residence and exhibited in the courtroom by the police, together with their ammunition.

The prosecution requested a treatment order for the accused and an order for the confiscation of the accused’s firearms as well as the cancellation of his weapons licence. 

The accused, who told the court that he was presently unemployed, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The man’s defence lawyer, Maroushka Debono, requested bail for her client. “Here we have a person who has known the alleged victim for 25 years, to whom he has been married for three years and had a son together. What we heard so far is the version given by the victims, but the inspector can confirm that the accused had told the police that there was an argument and that he had broken some glasses and a picture frame.”

The accused had no previous convictions for domestic violence or fighting. 

The lawyer told the court that the shotguns were found secured and stored in a garage, separate to the property. She asked for bail, arguing that there were no previous reports by the wife. The argument started after the wife emptied the couple’s joint account into her personal bank account, said the lawyer, adding that the police were aware of this.

The man could live with his mother in a neighbouring town, she said. Asked by the court, the accused explained that it was a 15-minute walk from his matrimonial home. The man’s 75-year-old mother was not in a suitable state to attend the arraignment, said the lawyer. 

The accused was open to the possibility of a social enquiry report being ordered, said his lawyer. 

Inspector Buhagiar objected to bail, clarifying that the charge did not allege a course of conduct and that domestic violence need not be physical, but included threats. The victims had not yet testified, she added. 

A risk assessment had also established that the accused was at risk of serious self-harm, the court was told.

After weighing up the various factors, the court upheld the request for bail, temporarily releasing the accused from arrest on several conditions, including that he does not contact the alleged victims in any way and signs a bail book three times a week. 

A curfew was also imposed.

His release from arrest was secured by a deposit of €2,500 and a personal guarantee of €7,500.

The court warned the accused of the consequences of breaching bail, and issued a protection order in favour of the woman and her son.

Despite being granted bail, the accused almost ended up have to spend the night in custody, due to administrative difficulties in paying his bail deposit. He protested to the magistrate that his wife controlled all the couple’s money, and that his elderly mother would not be able to help.

After some frantic phone calls, the court was told that the man’s wife was coming to pay his bail and bring the accused’s documents “so that he didn’t have to sleep in prison”.

The accused fought back tears as he told the court “in truth we were always a united family. I can’t understand why these things have happened. I’ve always loved them.” Inspector Buhagiar added that “sometimes people go to the police thinking that they can solve all their problems.” 

Police inspector Sherona Buhagiar prosecuted. Lawyer Maroushka Debono was defence counsel.