Man claims 'persecution' by girlfriend's protective stepdad

'This man is going to end up killing someone,' witness says as accused threatens to pull out his teeth in the courtroom.

A man has told a court that he has been “persecuted” for two years by a stepfather who is convinced that he is forcing his stepdaughter into prostitution.

Taxi driver Jesmond Azzopardi is accused of threatening the girl's boyfriend, Stefano Muscat. In the courtroom, before the sitting started this morning, Azzopardi threatened to pull Muscat's teeth out.

Muscat testified this morning, saying he had encountered the accused whilst on his way out of Valletta on May 9 last year and had been attacked.

“This person, who is not even her father, had been bound by the court not to approach me. I bumped into this person. It appeared that he did so on purpose.”

“I was walking past the kiosks and bumped into him, boom. It was like he did it on purpose. He's always laughing, telling me he'll pull my teeth out or set his dog on me. I do not even know this person. He punched me, threw me to the floor.”

He did not say who had bumped into whom, when cross-examined by defence lawyer Anita Giordmaina.

Azzopardi, who was previously charged with threatening his teenage stepdaughter with a knife, had beaten him up and dislocated his shoulder, Muscat said, claiming that he had filed a police report and had needed hospital treatment for the injuries he suffered.

Azzopardi had testified in October, telling magistrate Aaron Bugeja how he had suspected that the girl was being sold into sex work after finding several messages from different men on a mobile which the girl had borrowed.

The girl's mother had said that the police were in possession of Facebook chats proving that the girl had been selling her body for €20 at a time and that she was informed that 32-year-old Muscat would sell her on the streets of Marsa in the summer.

“I don’t now how the police have not sent for him when they know he is prostituting her,” the woman had said.

Both Azzopardi and the girl's mother had testified to having filed multiple police reports about their tear away daughter and Muscat to no avail and had eventually written to the Commissioner of Police.

Muscat told the court of the other side of the story today.

“Everywhere he sees me, he tells me 'I will pull your teeth out.' I swear on my daughter's life that I do not know this person. I have gone through two years of martyrdom.”

Muscat, who is homeless, is understood to also be facing separate criminal proceedings related to a physical assault on Azzopardi.

“This man is going to end up killing someone,” Muscat said of the girl's stepfather.

Muscat confirmed that he was in a relationship with the man's stepdaughter, saying that “a relationship can be many things.”

They had been going steady for two years now, he said. He told the court that he had changed his number several times but that the accused had found his number every time. “What am I supposed to do, leave her?”

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja read a statement made by a bystander that stated that the witness had spoken to Azzopardi first and had provoked him.

The witness replied that he was not surprised. “These bus drivers, they all speak up for each other...I am tired now, a person I don't even know has made my life a misery.”

The case continues.