Update 2 | Thieves entered residence through front door, no signs of forced entry

The trial by jury of Kenneth Ellul, the man accused of breaking into the house of former MP Anthony Zammit and assualting him, continues today

As the trial by jury of Kenneth Ellul, also known as 'il-Lula', 39, of Marsaskala, enters its second day, the man who worked as the victim's maintenance man recounts how he found his employer tied on his bed in the early hours of 12 August 2008.

Ellul is charged with the robbery and assault on former Labour member of Parliament Anthony Zammit in 2008. He is charged with holding Zammit against his will, aggravated theft, carrying an unlicensed weapon, assaulting the MP and causing him grievous injuries. He is also accused of stealing a Kia Avella.

Phillip Schembri, known as 'ic-Chucky' was the victim's maintenance man. His wife worked as the professor's maid.

"I was woken up when my mobile rang at 4:30am. I though it was my children but it was a Zebbug bar owner who told me to go over because they broke into the Professor's residence. I went over, opened the main door and heard cries of pain.

"Together with an officer, we went up. The officer kicked in the bedroom door as it was locked. Inside we found the professor tied and naked in the bed. He had blood coming out of his lips and several bruises. He was tied with electrical wire. We untied him, called an ambulance and the officer informed the CID. He put on some clothes, and told us that three men had broke into his residence, robbed and assaulted him", the witness said.

The witness said he always kept his copy of the professor's door key with him. "I never lent it to anyone. I kept it with me because there was always someone bringing items to the house - antiques, computer repairs and more".

Alfred Cauchi, another maintenance man, told jurors he had replaced the door lock at Zammit's residence. "I knew Professor Anthony Zammit since he was at university. I had access to his house as I sorted out plumbing and electricity for him. Once he told me to change his door lock and I fitted the best in the market at the time.

"We had seven copies of the key. He had one and we had one each; Phillip, his wife and myself and Zammit's sister-in-law. I don't know who had the other two," he said.

Cross examined by the defence, Cauchi said he still works for the professor but he no longer had a copy of the door key.

Major Joseph Borg, at the time of the robbery was still a sergeant. Calling at the scene of the robbery, the witness had noticed that there were no signs of forced entry. The bedroom, the kitchen and the studio had been ransacked. The victim informed him that the thieves had stolen €1,600, a number of watched and a mobile phone.

Scene of Crime officers Karl Glenville, Charlot Casha, and Daniel Abela took the witness stand together. The officers explained the various documents they exhibited and talked the jurors through a collection of photos taken at the scene of crime. The onsite inquiry was held by Magistrate Silvio Meli.

In the afternoon session of Kenneth Ellul's trial by jury, court expert Martin Bajada talked the court through three short CCTV video clips. The footage shows two men walking up to the main door and after some minutes, opening it and entering the house. Moments later, they were joined by a third man. No signs of forced entry were found on the door.

After more than an hour, two men are seen leaving the same main entrance. A van pulls up, and realising there were people outside, the third culprit remained hidden. Once the van drove off, the culprit ran away.

Architect Richard Aquilina presented his report giving details of the layout of Zammit's residence. He also described the the various locations the thieves had ransacked. "I believe the culprits, or at least one of them, had good knowledge of the inside of the residence as it looked like a labyrinth of sorts, and it would have been difficult to know where to search", the court expert said.

Officer Jeffrey Hughes told jurors that he could find no fingerprints on any of the items he was given. A glass taken from the scene of crime was passed to a different expert for possible DNA swabbing. The shotgun found in the stolen Kia Avella, had no gun shot residue on it and no DNA was traced.

Lawyers Lara Lanfranco and Kevin Valletta are prosecuting. Dr Josette Sultana is appearing for the accused.

Former inspector recalls firearms find

Former inspector Jeffrey Cilia took the witness stand and explained that in 2010 he had received anonymous information claiming that one of the weapons used in the Zammit robbery had been sold by a certain Jason Galea known as 'il-Guvni'.

The source claimed that the man Galea sold the weapon to had more weapons. Galea was arrested and claimed the gun had been sold to a certain Raymond Farrugia. 

A search warrant for Farrugia was issued and the police found a cache of weapons in his possession, including a black revolver. 

The witness said that during questioning Galea claimed that he was near a Chinese restaurant in Birzebbugia, when a black Marina pulled outside the shop and inside it he saw a man known as Jesmond Cassar known as 'it-Tito" and another person he knew by site but did not know the name.

From a police file photo, the second man was identified as the accused Kenneth Ellul. The two told him they wanted to sell a revolver in order to buy drugs. They also asked the whereabouts of a certain Raymond Farrugia. Galea had taken the men to Farrugia's residence but walked away from the area while the others did the deal.

Witness warned about the repercussions of perjury

Next to testify was 42-year old Jason Galea. Stuttering and giving half answers he said he remembered that Inspector Cilia had spoken to him about a firearm.

"I had sent him to two other men. One was it-Tito from Zabbar and another I knew by site, but didn't know his name. When shown photos I told the police that the man I knew looked like the one in the photo", the witness said.

The prosecution warned the witness that he was under oath and that he had previously released a statement confirming the man in the photo was the accused.

Galea was also shown the police statement he had signed. However, the witness argued he was not sure if it was the accused in the photo as the photo was in black and white.

The court ordered a confrontation of witnesses. Former inspector Cilia confirmed under oath, that the photo he had shown Galea was the only photo the police had on record. "He told me he recognised him 100%. It was the only photo we had. This was not the case of a mistaken identity, because he knew who the person was, he simply did not know his name".

This was also confirmed by Sergeant Jack Farrugia who was the witness in the police statement.

Judge Quintano warned Galea of the repercussions of perjury. "I'm warning you of the seriousness of your position.  The law deals with people who lie under oath with imprisonment. Make an effort and remember - these are important things that one should remember. You are under oath", the judge told Galea.

Saying that he is not alleging that the inspector is lying, Galea insisted that after releasing the statement he had told officers he was not sure of the man's identity. The former inspector replied that Galea had not told him anything after signing the statement.

Judge Quintano demanded to know if before giving evidence Galea had been approached by anyone. But Galea said it was not the case.

"I had this gun for 30 years" - witness

Sitting in a wheelchair, Raymond Farrugia swore to tell the truth. Handed the weapon exhibited by the prosecution and asked what he knew about it, the witness said he knew a lot.

"I had this for over 30 years. I bought it from a shop in Cavallo, Greece. It is made of aluminum. I used to keep it on the boat as it fired flares. A certain Jason who I just saw outside the hall, came to my garage in a black car and wanted to sell me a weapon for €100. I believe the car was a Marina. There were others in the car, but they did not exit the vehicle. I can't recall the weapon after all this time. I thought that at that price it was a joke and refused to buy it. I did not buy it, even when he went down to €50", Farrugia said.

The witness explained that he had another weapon which was seized by the police."I used to tell some Arab friends to get me ammunition for the other one. I should still have some rounds lying around in the house. I got a month's suspended sentence for having those weapons in my possession", the witness concluded.

Witnesses deny informant's version

Bruno Phillip Farrugia and Christian Ellul - who had been previously investigated by the police in connection with the Zebbug robbery, took the stand.

"The police had spoken to me about allegations made by a certain Christian Shepherd against me. He had told officers that I was part of a robbery from a Professor's house. Shepherd had claimed that I went to pick him up and he had seen weapons in the car. Allegedly I had told him to join forces for a theft. However Although I knew who Shepherd was, I never spoke to him about anything, let alone a robbery", Bruno Phillip Farrugia said, insisting that nothing of what Shepherd said was true.

Christian Ellul confirmed he knew the accused Kenneth Ellul, but the two are not related. He also remembered that a certain Christian Shepherd had alleged that he, Bruno Phillip Farrugia and Kenneth Ellul had approached him over a theft from Zebbug.

"I dont't recall exactly who it was because alot of time has passed. In 2008 I drove a grey FIAT Punto. I did not know who Shepherd or 'Shorty' was - I met him the first time at the depot. I never argued with him or anything, I would like to know why he framed me", Christian Ellul said. 

The case continues.