Man guilty of raping cousin gets 10 years in prison

The 25-year-old man was sentenced to ten years imprisonment by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera. He is expected to appeal.

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera sentenced the man to 10 years of prison
Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera sentenced the man to 10 years of prison

The trial of a young man accused of the rape and sexual abuse of his younger cousin has ended with a conviction.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera’s judgment comes at the end of a week-long trial which spurred public debate on the issue of victim-blaming and how rape cases are dealt with.

The now 16 year-old girl had testified in the trial, telling the judge that the abuse would happen in various rooms at her grandmother’s house.

READ ALSO: Jealousy behind rape claim, lawyers say in 228-point defence of man accused of cousin's rape

But defence lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Anita Giordmaina had argued that the allegations were false and that the girl was motivated by jealousy of the accused and his long-term girlfriend.

The court said the it was up to the prosecution to prove charges beyond reasonable doubt. The court noted that it was faced with conflicting evidence and examined case law on this point and others. Circumstantial evidence had to point in one direction, said the judge, giving an overview of how the courts are to interpret evidence.

The air in the courtroom was heavy with tension as the judge read through the lengthy judgment.

The court said that exceptional circumstances justified the admission of hearsay evidence of the girl's guidance teacher. The court also noted that the man's family members appear to have been summoned to testify in a bid to "add colour" u the description of the girl's character. Despite their testimony, it said that neither of them could shed any light on her testimony since the girl had claimed that all acts had occured when they were alone.

The court said that while they had all agreed that the girl was ambitious and arrogant, none had described any instance in which she had lied, save for one occasion.

The court also congratulated the lawyers on both sides for their conduct which she said she had seldom seen before.

It said that there was no reason for the child to be jealous of the accused and his settled life, as she too had boyfriends.

She had been controlled by her cousin with great malice, said the judge, who decried the “barbarous and animalesque” actions of the accused.

The judge ruled that although the way the law dealt with the punishment had changed in the period since the incident took place, the punishment applicable at the time would be applied.

The accused was declared guilty of rape, aggravated by the grade of blood relationship with the victim and jailed for 10 years. He is expected to appeal.

Lawyers Nadia Attard, Matthew Xuereb and Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General prosecuted. 

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