Siggiewi man charged with punching partner, locking her in henhouse, over death of chicks

Court hears how the female victim escaped after 9-hour ordeal and hitched a ride to the police station.

Victim tried calling 112 before her assailant returned and took her phone away.
Victim tried calling 112 before her assailant returned and took her phone away.

A man from Siggiewi has been accused of assaulting his partner, before tying her up and locking her in his henhouse in apparent retaliation for the death of three of his chicks.

The 47-year-old defendant, whose name and that of his alleged victim is subject to a court-imposed media ban, was charged on Saturday with holding the alleged victim against her will, causing her fear of violence, assaulting and slightly injuring her as well as wilfully damaging her mobile phone. He was also charged with illegal possession of cannabis.

Police Inspector Colin Sheldon told Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo that the incident had taken place at a farmhouse in Siġġiewi, where the man and his partner resided. The alleged victim had managed to escape on December 22 after spending 9 hours locked up, before thumbing a lift to the Zurrieq police station where she filed a report.

The victim, whose two young children fathered by the accused are under a care order, told the officers at the Domestic Violence Unit that she had been making the bed early on December 22 when her partner had returned from the henhouse where he reared chickens, throwing three dead chicks at her and telling her she was to blame for their deaths.

Inspector Sheldon told the court that the defendant had then pushed her onto the terrace outside, telling the woman that she would “never again step inside” the house and locking the terrace door.

After spending two hours on the terrace, the woman managed to get back into the house through the kitchen window, which had not been completely shut.. 

Upon finding the woman inside, the defendant allegedly punched her, before binding her hands together and dragging her outside, locking her in the chicken coop after untying her hands.

She called the emergency services on her mobile phone, which was still in her pocket, only for the man to return and confiscate the device, smashing it on the ground outside the henhouse.

However, in his anger, the man had forgotten to lock the door, allowing the woman to escape. She walked to a road and flagged down a car being driven by a woman, who took her to the police station.

The court was told that the police took the woman to the Floriana health centre where her injuries were certified as being slight in nature. 

The man was later arrested after the case was classified as high risk by social workers. 

A not guilty plea was entered by the defendant, whose bail request was met with objections from the prosecution. After hearing both parties’ submissions on bail, the court denied the request and ordered the man be remanded in custody.

The court also ordered a ban on the names of both parties. 

Inspector Colin Sheldon prosecuted. Lawyer Joseph Bonnici assisted the defendant as legal aid counsel.