Former police officer not guilty of raping colleague, judge rules

The court has acquitted an ex-constable of raping his colleague after a week-long trial without jury but finds him guilty of sexually harassing a second teenage colleague • Man is given suspended sentence

Several witnesses testified during the trial of a 33-year-old ex-constable accused of sexually harassing his colleagues
Several witnesses testified during the trial of a 33-year-old ex-constable accused of sexually harassing his colleagues

Updated at 6:05pm with full judgment details

A judge has acquitted a former police officer of charges that he raped a female colleague at the Msida police station but found him guilty of sexually harassing a second teenage colleague.

Madame Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera described the station as a "brothel" but said that the permissive behaviour among officers stationed there did not mean there was criminal wrongdoing.

The 33-year-old defandant, who cannot be named by court order, covered his face when he heard that he was cleared of rape.

However, the judge found him guilty on a separate charge that he sexually harassed another woman recruit, who was still 19 at the time. Scerri Herrera sentenced the man to one year in prison, suspended for two years for sexual harassment of the second victim.

The man faced charges of illegal arrest, sexual harassment at the workplace and harassment.

The judge said a detailed analysis of the first victim's account showed inconsistencies in her version of the facts. Scerri Herrera said it was "more likely" that the sex was consensual, noting that the woman had avoided the court's questions about her personal life and about kissing another police officer.

The judge added that in normal circumstances rape victims would try to do everything to avoid their aggressor but the alleged victim changed her shift to be at Msida and sat in front of the accused at a meal for officers.

The judge ruled that the woman's version was not credible and acquitted the accused of rape.

During a week-long trial without jury, the court heard two policewomen testify on receiving unwanted compliments and sexual advances from the ex-constable.

The man was alleged to have sexually harassed, repeatedly groped and later raped one female officer on more than one occasion in the kitchenette at the Msida police station where they were both stationed. He was also alleged to have sexually assaulted another in a police car in the months leading up to March 2018.

At the time, the first victim was in a relationship and had a child, while the other was a 19-year-old new recruit.

Over the past week several witnesses, including former colleagues of the accused and the victims, testified before Madame justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera.

The trial took a twist when the court ruled that the former police constable’s confession to raping his colleague cannot be used as evidence in the case, as the caution had not been administered according to law at the time.

During concluding remarks, the defence argued that the prosecution had failed to present tangible evidence, warning that “rape is an ugly crime, but being falsely accused of rape is ugly too.”

The prosecution on the other hand said the defendant felt he was “untouchable”, and would engineer his shift patterns to ensure a better chance of ending up alone with the victim at the Msida police station.

Lawyers Angele Vella and Darlene Grima prosecuted on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

The defendant was represented by lawyers Edward Gatt and Franco Debono.

Lawyers Lara Dimitrijevic and Stephanie Caruana appeared for the alleged victims.