Defence in rape trial presents witnesses who say victim is ‘attention-seeker’

Defence witnesses describe victim who says she was raped at 10 years of age by her elder cousin, as ‘possessive, bossy and ambitious’

The trial of a young man accused of raping his 10-year-old cousin continued, with the court being told that a washroom in which the alleged rape took place was always locked and could not have been opened by anyone.

A number of defence witnesses were summoned, who described the victim as “possessive, bossy and ambitious” – one 85-year-old neighbour testified that she had spent the last 38 years living across the road from the accused’s mother. “The house, it’s always full of people. It’s like a band club… [The girl] doesn’t have a very nice character. She’s ambitious… I hear her speak to her mother, bossing her around. She always wants to be better than everyone.”

The witness said she had known the accused since he was a boy and that he had been going steady with his girlfriend “for many years”.

Cross-examined by the prosecution, the witness said the girl would come visit her cousin’s house with her parents, eat and leave. “She’s a quiet girl, but she’s too ambitious, she wants everyone beneath her.”

Another family member told presiding judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera that the accused was living with his girlfriend’s parents. The witness, who keeps birds in the washroom where the alleged rape took place, said he locks the gate and keeps the keys on his person. “One time I left my keys behind and I was going to go crazy… The birds are like my children.”

He said the accused would go up to the washroom every now and then to get a cigarette, he said.

He described the victim as “a bit of a duttura If you don’t talk to her she won’t talk to you.”

Next on the stand was the accused’s girlfriend, who said she knew both the family and the accused. Neither she nor the accused had ever had any fights with the victim, said the witness. “She has a difficult character and would shout at her parents,” she said of the victim.

Defence lawyer Franco Debono told the court that the victim would post complimentary Facebook photos of the accused and his girlfriend around two years ago. A spirited debate on whether screenshots of the Facebook posts could be exhibited at this stage ensued, with the judge eventually ruling that it was not in the interests of justice to allow it.

The accused’s girlfriend said she was shocked at the rape claim, but then determined that it could not be true.” He is always at home. The house is full of people and very small. [The victim] is very possessive and loves attention, she’d refuse food at table so people would say ‘eat something, pretty girl.’”

Another relative, the father of the twins who were allegedly present during one instance of abuse, said his children had never told him about any incident. “The girl is jealous and possessive. She wants to command her parents. She would talk and reason, but if she wants something she’d carry on until she got it.”

Testifying via video conferencing, another young cousin of the accused told the court that his aunt would sometime visit without the girl being there. She would come to visit on Sundays for lunch, and that’s the only time she and the accused would be together, he said.

The accused would constantly be on his PlayStation console, and the witness said he’d be with him. Would the girl be there too? “Rarely, if she’d be near us she’d be on the mobile to be close to the internet router.”

“It was always my mum putting my siblings to bed. I wouldn’t talk much to [the victim] because she had a proud character and I didn’t get along with her much.”

Asked why he had blocked her on Facebook, the witness said he didn’t trust her. “I didn’t want her to invent something else.”

He had only heard her version of events from the news, he said. From the day she accused his cousin, he never spoke to her. “When she didn’t get what she wanted she’d shout at her parents. She’s very possessive and jealous of her younger sister who gets special treatment because she is lactose intolerant. For example, she boasted with me that she had passed maths when I had failed. Then her sister told me that she had failed and was crying all night.

“Before the case, we were a united family… now I personally don’t speak to the victim’s family or her. I don’t trust them. It’s a lie; it’s impossible that it happened. The grandmother’s place is very small, and on Saturday we’d be a lot of people. The mirror makes everywhere visible. I expected her to do something like this. She hadn’t been turning up at nanna’s for a while.”

The case continues today. Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Anita Giordmaina are defending the accused. Lawyers Matthew Xuereb, Nadia Attard and Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.

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