Lawyer questions police inaction in domestic violence stabbing case

Woman accused of stabbing her husband had made numerous police reports about violent husband but had been ignored

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Questions about police inaction on domestic violence reports have arisen in court after a woman who had made numerous police reports about her violent husband was charged with grievously injuring him with a kitchen knife during a domestic confrontation.

The 27-year-old from Zabbar appeared in the dock before magistrate Gabriella Vella this morning, accused of stabbing her husband in the abdomen.

Police Inspector Eman Hayman told the court that the police became involved after the man was taken to the Paola health centre by a friend, where he was found to have sustained stab wounds. After it was established that he had been stabbed by his wife, police started searching for her, finding the woman at another health centre, receiving treatment for facial injuries.

Inspector Hayman explained that the man told the police that the couple had had an argument which escalated to the point where the woman had allegedly picked up a small pair of scissors and started hitting him with it. Then she went to the kitchen and retrieved a large knife with which she stabbed her husband in the abdomen, he said.

Although grievously injured, the man is not in danger of dying.

The woman’s defence lawyer, Stefano Filletti, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge and requested bail.

There had been repeated reports of domestic violence filed by the woman, he said, but no action was taken. Reading from a police report, the lawyer said that the victim had beaten her up in Paceville in February. The man was spoken to but no action was taken, Filletti said.

There were other reports, of stalking and threats which had also been ignored, he said. “This is the protection we were giving this woman,” the lawyer said, describing the man’s injuries as “a typical self-defence wound.”

The accused, who appeared in court with fresh stitches on the bridge of her nose had asked the police for help numerous times, but steps against the man were never taken. “The court might not be looking into the merits at this stage, but it can see the damage to her face,” said the lawyer.

“Yes she will have to answer for her crime,” Filletti went on, “but she also has a seven-year-old son who is deaf. Are we going to penalise this boy too, when he and his mother have been terrorised? She hasn’t got the means to escape the country. She’s terrified of her husband whom she had repeatedly reported to the inspector who is prosecuting her.”

A court-imposed protection order would only bind her, said the lawyer. The court protested that it could not do anything about that. “If she wants to be protected she can stay in prison,” said the magistrate.

The inspector said that although the woman was “clearly not going through a happy time,” the victim “was worse off as he had a knife stuck in him.” The crime was one of great gravity and there was a good chance of another crime happening if she were to be released, he said.

Filletti showed the court a picture of the woman’s bloodied face. A simple police search by ID card would reveal the history of abuse, he said.

The incident itself is serious, but the backstory is also serious, said the lawyer. This fact and the fact that she has a disabled son militated in favour of bail.

After hearing submissions from both sides on bail, the court released the woman from arrest against a deposit of €300 and a personal guarantee of €3,000. A three-year protection order, prohibiting her from approaching the man was also imposed. The woman asked the court what she was to do if the man approached her, and was told to inform the police in that situation.

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