Man charged with raping a woman and a girl 24 hours apart

The 21-year-old male student was denied bail after being charged with twocounts of rape and illegal arrest

A 21-year-old male student from Tarxien has been charged with raping a woman and a girl in separate incidents just 24 hours apart.

Police inspectors John Spiteri, Sarah Kathleen Zerafa, Ryan Vella and Prosecutor Darlene Grima from the Attorney General charged the man, who cannot be named due to a court order, with two counts of rape and illegal arrest. He pleaded not guilty.

The court was told that the first of the alleged incidents took place close to midnight on 3 June, at Tarxien and the other at a similar time on 4 June at Little Armier.

Defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, requested bail and asked for a ban on the publication of the name of the accused and his two victims. The bail request was denied by the court.

The prosecution objected to bail, Grima pointing out that the victims were still yet to testify in this case, and that there were several important civilian witnesses.

Police inspector John Spiteri added that the alleged victim of the first assault had been so drunk that she had been unable to describe her assailant.

In addition to this, several people, who had been with and who had transported the victim to the place, live close to the accused, said the inspector. “What little she remembers is very important. DNA ties the accused to the initial crime, but testimony is crucial.”

For the defence, Azzopardi submitted that there was no doubt that these witnesses had to testify. The accused and the victim had no connection or communications between them, he said. The remaining civilian witnesses are CCTV owners, which footage cannot be tampered with, and people who will testify that the victim was drunk, who cannot claim that she wasn’t.

It was then pointed out to the lawyer that the second case involved a minor. He replied that she had testified in the inquiry and could not change her version. "The rest are people who had been spoken to by the police and are all defence witnesses," said the lawyer.

“So we have a 21-year-old, first time offender with a clean criminal record. He’s still a student, living with his parents, who are prepared to guarantee his bail,” argued the lawyer, conceding that the charges “are not pleasant.”

Spiteri agreed in part with the defence, but said that although the accused was still a student, the fear of tampering with evidence still remained.

“Although he claims that he did not know one of the victim’s names, he does now because it is mentioned in the charges.” Two witnesses in the club (kazin) where the victim was drinking, are important to establish the time that the drinking took place, before she was given a lift by the accused.”

He added that the publication of the accused’s name would in no way would lead to the identification of the victims.

Azzopardi’s rejoinder pointed out the CCTV which preserved the timings, arguing that the two witnesses were not as crucial as the prosecution was insisting.

With regards to the request for a ban on publication, the lawyer submitted that all of the persons present at the party could know what happened and as soon as the accused would be named in the press, every person who had been there would know who the victims are. “This arraignment should not have taken place in public, but should be behind closed doors. It is a mistake by the prosecution, because the Criminal code stipulates that the entire proceedings should be held behind closed doors,” Azzopardi added.

The court, after hearing the parties’ submissions, denied bail and upheld the request for a ban on the publication of the name of the accused or the alleged victims.