Tarxien man charged with rape and defilement of 15-year-old girl

Court told girl was raped during a sleepover at her friend’s house

File photo
File photo

A 35-year-old man from Tarxien has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the alleged rape and defilement of a 15-year-old girl during a sleepover at his house.

Inspector Joseph Busuttil told magistrate Josette Demicoli that the accused, Keith Vella, a baker, had been arrested after the girl’s parents went to a police station last night to report that their daughter had been raped by the accused.

It was explained that Vella is in a relationship with the victim’s friend’s aunt. 

The girl was spoken to by the police and had told them that Vella had “raped her with his fingers,” during a sleepover at her friend’s house. The man’s wife had been asleep in another room at the time, added the inspector. The girl had managed to stop the assault, woke up her friend and together they then woke up the friend’s parents, who went to the police station.

Vella’s defence lawyer, Roberto Spiteri, asked for a ban on the publication of his client’s name, arguing that it would cause irreparable damage to his family and employment, as well as “negative and prejudicial repercussions” on his children.

Inspector Busuttil replied, explaining to the court that the parents of the children involved had confirmed that there was no way to arrive at the identity of their daughters from the identification of the accused. The request therefore had no basis in law, argued the inspector.

The court rejected the request for a ban on publication of the name of the accused.

Spiteri then asked that the court grant his client bail, which was also objected to by the prosecution. Inspector Busuttil pointed out that the charges related to a scheduled offence, and that there were two minors who were yet to testify.

Spiteri said the evidential value of testimony to be given by the accused’s wife's niece was “inexistent,” as she had not been present for the alleged assault. Additionally, the victim did not live with the accused, residing in a different town.

“When one evaluates all the circumstances, the prejudice suffered by the accused would be disproportionate, if bail is refused,” argued the lawyer.

Inspector Busuttil asked Spiteri how the defence lawyer could know whether the girl had nothing to say, asking whether this was “the start of the tampering with evidence.”

Lawyer Kris Busietta, who is appearing for the parte civile together with lawyer Jason Azzopardi, underlined that the crime was a scheduled offence and that both the victim and the prosecution’s primary witness were minors, urging the court to exercise caution.

The court, after hearing the parties’ submissions and relevant sections of the Criminal Code, said it would be remanding the accused in custody due to the real risk of the accused tampering with evidence.

Inspectors Joseph Busuttil and Paul Camilleri prosecuted, assisted by lawyer Darlene Grima from the Office of the Attorney General.