Court denies bail to Mtarfa couple accused of abusing their young daughters

A man has been accused of sexually abusing his underage daughters, while his wife was charged with physical abuse and cruel treatment, both of whom denied their charges

A man from Mtarfa has been remanded in custody, accused of sexually abusing his two underage daughters over a period of several years. 

His wife, who was charged separately today with physical abuse and cruel treatment of the children over the same period, was also refused bail. 

The couple’s daughters are now 13 and 18 years of age, with the eldest only turning 18 today.

Inspectors Godwin Scerri and Wayne Buhagiar arraigned the couple, who are not being named in terms of a court order aimed at protecting the children from secondary victimisation, separately. 

The court was told that the abuse had only come to light thanks to a report filed by the mother of one of the children’s friends, to whom the child had opened up to about the abuse while attending a sleepover at the friend’s house.

First to be charged was the 43 year-old father, a deliveryman, who appeared before magistrate Abigail Critien accused of corrupting minors who were also his blood relatives, sexually corrupting minors who were in his care, committing a non-consensual act of a sexual nature on the daughters and subjecting them to unwanted acts of physical intimacy.

The mother was charged with cruelty and mistreatment, as well as with preventing the children from giving information or evidence required in court proceedings, to the authorities.

The court issued protection orders in favour of the two alleged victims, prohibiting the defendants from approaching or attempting to communicate with the two daughters.

Legal aid lawyer Martin Farrugia asked for bail on behalf of the father. “We cannot forget that my client is first of all protesting his innocence and is presumed innocent, so one must see at this stage on what grounds his liberty would be restricted.” He had a fixed address and strong ties to Malta and the protection order was sufficient to safeguard the interests of society.

Bail was denied due to the risk of the defendant tampering with evidence, the nature of the crime he was being  accused of, as well as because the alleged victims had not yet testified.

Prosecutor Darlene Grima assisted the prosecution in the proceedings against the father.

The two police inspectors arraigned the mother next, explaining that she had been arrested in identical circumstances to the father, on the strength of a warrant.

The 42 year-old woman also pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested bail. The prosecution objected to her release from arrest.

Inspector Scerri explained that although the charges against the mother were less grave than those pressed against her husband, there were still vulnerable witnesses who lived in the same residence as her and who were therefore at risk of subornation.

Farrugia argued that there was no justification for depriving the woman of her liberty. “Before this court considers a bail request, it must first assess whether it had sufficient tools available to ensure the good behaviour of the person accused,” submitted the lawyer. “If these tools exist then the prosecution’s objections come to nothing.”

The court, however, also rejected the mother’s bail request, on the same grounds as the father’s.