Defence slams ‘phantasmal’ objections to bail of Mangion Walker murder suspect

Andrew Mangion, charged last July with the murder of his wife Eleanor Mangion Walker, remains in preventive custody

Murder suspect Andrew Mangion is charged with the wilful homicide of his wife
Murder suspect Andrew Mangion is charged with the wilful homicide of his wife

Murder suspect Andrew Mangion’s defence lawyer has defended a request for bail, arguing that 10 months on from his arrest, there is no risk of him tampering with evidence.

Mangion remains in preventive custody, after being charged last July with the murder of his estranged wife, Eleanor Mangion Walker. Mangion is accused of wilful homicide of wife, hiding his wife’s body and simple possession of cannabis. 

This morning, Mangion’s lawyer Joe Giglio accused the Attorney General of objecting to bail for “phantasmal” reasons.

Originally bail had been objected to due to a fear of tampering with evidence or subornation of witnesses, Giglio pointed out to judge Antonio Mizzi as he made submissions before the Criminal Court on a new request for bail this morning. A previous request had been turned down in March. “The AG is saying that, as the situation hadn’t changed in a month, this means it should be denied. Two months have passed now and this is not a good reason,” the lawyer submitted.

“There was a period of time when the accused went into hiding. And Julian Grech had testified to tell us why the man was hiding,” Giglio said.

Mangion had then been referred to Mount Carmel Hospital for treatment after turning himself in at the police depot. “This is the mental state he was in. Later two psychiatrists testified that he could now be interrogated and the mental state he was in during those days no longer existed.”

Mangion Walker (left) was found dead in a Marsa garage
Mangion Walker (left) was found dead in a Marsa garage

The allegation that he had hidden from the authorities had to be seen in the light of his mental state at the time, the lawyer said.

Accusing the Attorney General’s office of throwing accusations of conspiracy in the hope that something would stick. “It’s easy to throw mud in the hope that some of it sticks, but what do the acts of the case show us? The crime he is accused of is what it is, but bail remains a right.”

Prosecuting lawyer Giannella Busuttil, from the Office of the Attorney General, replied by emphasising the gravity of the charges: “Not only did he murder his wife, but he went to great lengths to try and hide the traces of the crime that he had committed.”

The crime was a complex one and there were several crime scenes, she said, and he had reported the crime only after concealing evidence. The fact that he had placed cardboard under the windsurfing bag in which the body was transported, in order to absorb blood “shows how much thought he put into this crime.”

When he realised that he had been reported to the police, the accused had gone into hiding, she said, pointing out that it was only after his name was broadcast on the media did Julian Grech inform the police that he knew of Mangion’s whereabouts. “When he was found, one of the things Mangion was carrying was his passport,” the lawyer said. “This is documented in the acts of the case.”

He had asked Kristjan Zekic to help him hide the body, argued the lawyer. Zekic is charged separately with hiding the body and using an alias. “Zekic was later found to not exist and in fact is Adam John Niasov. These were the community ties he has,” she argued.

These factors all pointed to a risk that the accused abscond or attempt to create a false identity. The prosecution had already submitted 10 volumes of evidence in the 10 months and opposed “with all vigour” the request for bail.

In his rejoinder, Giglio argued that the AG was stating that the allegations as facts. The presumption of innocence did not exist for the AG, the lawyer said. “These are the facts, with all due respect, that are being alleged... Just because it is a grave case, it doesn’t mean that there is no right to bail... What are the 10 volumes? They are the evidence gathered from the many crime scenes. So the crime scenes are secured. So how can he tamper with crime scenes when the evidence is already collected and documented?”

The court will decree on bail from chambers.