Malta
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'You'll end up like Bernice': man jailed for threatening to kill ex partner

A drug addict who constantly bombarded his ex-partner with demands for money, threatening that she would “end up like Bernice” and that their three children would “be motherless” has been jailed for three and a half years. 

The 41-year-old Tarxien resident whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of his victim and their children - two of whom are minors - was arrested after the woman reported him to the police in March.

That was her second report against the man whom court was told on Thursday has been gripped by a serious drug problem for 15 years. 

The woman's first report was filed in October 2022, and the man had allegedly smashed her car windscreen after he learnt she had reported him to the police. 

Man tells ex he pitied the kids as they will end up motherless because of her

The long-suffering woman poured out her troubles to the police, describing her ex’s constant demands for money to fuel his drug addiction. 

She tried to keep him calm, hoping to stop the situation from escalating further. That was why she answered his persistent calls and handed him money - between €60 to €120 daily - later testifying that she “always tried to protect the children”.

“What could I do?” the woman remarked. 

The couple had been estranged for five years but the harassment escalated after the man got to know that his ex had dined with a male friend. 

He grew obsessed with the thought that she had a relationship with that man so his calls increased in frequency and intensity. 

On March 16, she received three calls from her ex between 9.22pm and 9.47pm. Those calls were made from his friend’s mobile. 

Two days later,  her ex rang her doorbell early in the morning. She immediately called the police but he had left by the time they arrived. 

At 6am, she headed to the domestic violence unit to file her second report which resulted in her ex’s arrest. 

He was subsequently charged with causing her fear of violence, subjecting her to moral and psychological violence, harassment as well as insults and threats. 

The woman’s version was supported by three recordings of telephone conversations with the accused who knew that she was sometimes recording him. 

Their eldest daughter, who refused to speak to her father, also corroborated her mother’s version. 

'Domestic violence victims often prefer to suffer in silence'

The defence questioned why the alleged victim kept answering the accused’s calls and handing him money, thus further fueling his addiction rather than seeking police help immediately. 

However, the court, presided over by Magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia, shot down that argument observing that “it was easy to argue in that manner in a purely clinical context” where emotions did not play a part. 

It was different for a domestic violence victim who knew that her report would likely result in criminal action and jail for the father of her children. 

“It’s a fact that domestic violence victims often prefer to suffer in silence, sometimes for years, rather than report to the police for various reasons including fear of retaliation by the aggressor and [the fear] that matters would take a turn for the worse.” 

'The kids will end up motherless'

The accused had smashed his ex’s car windscreen after she reported him the first time. He would tell her that he “pitied the kids because they would end up motherless because of her”.

He threatened to shoot her and that “she would end up like Bernice”. 

Bernice Cassar was allegedly shot dead by her estranged husband in Corradino in November of last year.

On Thursday the court concluded that the prosecution had proved its case and condemned the man to a three and a half years jail term, less the time spent in preventive custody. 

The accused had a criminal record marred by 14 convictions and he had wasted previous opportunities, refusing to enter rehabilitation to quit his drug problem, insisting that he could do it alone. 

But he evidently needed help and that was available within the confines of prison, said the Magistrate, also issuing a three-year restraining order that would take effect once he had served his sentence. 

Inspectors Omar Zammit and Sherona Buhagiar prosecuted.