Hamrun stabbing suspect's father ‘deteriorating by the second’

The lawyer representing murder suspect Kurt Grech and his father, Joseph, argued this morning that the latter's continued incarceration was negatively affecting his emotional state, saying it was "deteriorating by the second"

The father's continued incarceration was negatively affecting his emotional state, the lawyer said
The father's continued incarceration was negatively affecting his emotional state, the lawyer said

A request for bail for a man involved in the stabbing of 21-year-old Brandon Pace last month has been upheld by the Criminal Court.

53-year-old Joseph Grech, father of Kurt Grech 'in-Nemes', had been arraigned together with his son last month on charges which include wilful homicide and carrying a knife in public without a police permit, after Pace was stabbed to death outside his apartment in Hamrun.

Joseph Grech is also charged with threatening the victim's sister with a knife.

This morning lawyer Roberto Montalto explained to judge Antonio Mizzi that he had first asked for bail during the first sitting of the compilation of evidence, on 16 April. This sitting had been characterised by presiding magistrate Aaron Bugeja being constantly interrupted by phone calls about Pilatus bank, the lawyer said. “He was obviously not being allowed to work in peace.” The magistrate had held that Joseph Grech's previous convictions had rendered him ineligible for bail.

The lawyer told the judge that in the interim, the bail application, originally for both Kurt and Joseph Grech, had been withdrawn with respect to Kurt Grech, leaving only the father's bail to be considered.

Joseph Grech's criminal conduct was marred only by parking, traffic offences and a conviction for slaughtering rabbits illegally. It was “effectively a clean conduct therefore, and an erroneous decision by the court.”

On 26 April, the deposition of the 24 witnesses which the prosecution was likely to summon in the trial was exhibited in court, Montalto said, interpreting this as meaning that the witness evidence was already preserved. The Attorney General had conceded this point in writing, the lawyer said and had said he would submit to the court's decision.

Of the incident which led to the death of Brandon Pace, the lawyer said: “Kurt Grech had been in an argument over a failed relationship. He had cooperated with the police, telling them that the had CCTV footage of him leaving home with two knives. Joseph Grech was nowhere to be seen in the footage.”

“Joseph Grech went there because he was Kurt Grech's father. It is not the opportune stage to examine whether he was involved in the struggle. It emerged that the deceased died as a result of a stab wound from the front through his heart. It was consistently reported by witnesses that Joseph Grech was behind the victim. He was a secondary player in the story”, the lawyer submitted.

The father's continued incarceration was negatively affecting his emotional state, the lawyer said. “I see him deteriorating by the second.”

The Grechs had cooperated with the police, the lawyer submitted. Kurt Grech’s brother had admitted to having washed the van which was covered in his brother's blood in a moment of panic. “If anything that evidence would have benefited the defence,” Montalto submitted.

Apart from the prematurity of the request, there was no objection by the Attorney General, the lawyer said. “I take this as a lack of objection from the Attorney General as long as there are sufficient conditions.”

Dr Maria Francesca Fenech from the Attorney General’s office said there was no such waiver. “It is true that the testimony has been collected, but witnesses will still be asked to testify before the compiling magistrate. There is always a risk of them being influenced until they take the witness stand,” she said.

Some key witnesses were yet to testify, including the mother of the victim and his girlfriend, the prosecutor added.

The victim's girlfriend is in a residential drug programme and effectively kept apart from the accused. The other one is the mother of the victim, who is going to influence her?” Montalto shot back.

In a decree issued from chambers this afternoon, the court is understood to have granted Joseph Grech bail against a deposit of €20,000 and an €80,000 personal guarantee. Grech is to sign a bail book once weekly and observe a curfew.