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Accused in Bernice Cassar murder denied bail

The man accused of fatally shooting Bernice Cassar last November has been denied bail for the fourth time by the Criminal Court.

Roderick Cassar is accused of the murder of estranged wife Bernice outside her workplace at Corradino. Cassar is thought to have believed that the victim had been having an affair with a work colleague.

The police say Cassar shot his wife in the face and chest with an unlicensed shotgun, later barricading himself inside his residence. He was arrested after a 17-hour armed standoff with the police.

All of Cassar’s previous requests for bail have been rejected, most recently in September.

Making submissions before Madam Justice Edwina Grima in the Criminal Court on Wednesday, Franco Debono, one of Cassar’s lawyers, insisted that the man should be released from arrest, saying that he satisfied the legal requirements for bail.

Ruling on the request earlier today, Madam Justice Edwina Grima denied bail, on the grounds that there had been no change in Cassar’s circumstances since the refusal of his previous bail application.

The judge observed that a key worker who is implementing the care plan that was prepared for Cassar, had assessed him as highly anxious, reserved and unable or unwilling to express his emotions.

The healthcare professional testified on Wednesday, telling the court that Cassar’s anxiety was still evident and manifested itself most as his court dates approached.

There had been some progress in the defendant’s regard, she said, as he had asked to meet the psychologist and had opened up about his concerns, which revolved around the criminal case against him, his children and his parents’ health.

Cassar was assessed upon his arrival at the Corradino Correctional Facility, a care plan was drawn up and he was referred to an experienced psychologist, she said, adding that during his months in preventive custody, Cassar had behaved well and had not caused trouble with other inmates, she said.

Noting that one of Cassar’s relatives had offered to act as third-party guarantor and was prepared to provide financial guarantees of up to €100,000 for his release, the judge said that this was not sufficient for bail to be granted. Cassar did not inspire the court’s confidence that he would abide by the bail conditions it might impose, said the judge.

“With this backdrop, and above all keeping in mind the grave nature of the crime with which the defendant is accused, the court is of the opinion that he still does not offer reassurance that if granted bail there will not be a repetition of the offences, morse so when he is accused of breaching a protection order imposed on him by the court.

“Therefore, when the defendant’s right to liberty is weighed against the interests and security of primarily the victim’s children and family members, as well as those of society in general, the scales still tilt in favour of the rejection of the defendant’s request.”

Lawyers Angele Vella and Darlene Grima are prosecuting. 

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi Marion Camilleri and Jacob Magri are also defence counsel.

Lawyers Stefano Filletti, Marita Pace Dimech, Anne Marie Cutajar and Rodianne Sciberras are appearing parte civile.