A man who exposed himself to a 12-year-old girl on the steet has been denied bail after pleading not guilty to defiling the minor. 

The incident allegedly happened in June, when 41-year-old Louis Calleja from Fgura stopped the girl as she was walking along a street in his hometown. 

The girl and her mother subsequently turned up in tears at the Paola police station, reporting how a stranger first spoke to the minor, asking whether she “liked boys or girls” and then suddenly exposed his genitals to her.

The girl ran off, heading home straight away to tell her mother. 

Following the report by mother and daughter, police investigations got underway, retrieving CCTV footage from the street indicated by the girl. 

That footage appeared to corroborate the young victim’s version, said the prosecution when the suspect was arraigned on Tuesday.

The suspect was filmed driving his car along that street until he spotted the girl and parked his vehicle.

He then appeared to speak to the girl “for a few seconds” before she took off, running away visibly scared.

The man was charged with defilement of the minor, subjecting her to an act of physical intimacy against her will, sharing indecent material with an underage person as well as relapsing.

He pleaded not guilty. 

A request for bail was objected to in view of the fact that the minor was still to testify and AG lawyer Sean Azzopardi declared that the prosecution would no longer object once the girl had testified.

The defence argued that this appeared to be a “one-off incident” between the man and the alleged victim who were in no way related.

The two did not know each other and besides, the minor was under her parents’ custody, argued lawyer Lennox Vella.

As for the charge of recidivism, this stemmed from a traffic offence, pointed out the lawyer, stressing that the accused’s criminal record was otherwise practically untainted.

Moreover, the material evidence was already in police possession, added lawyer Daniel.     Buttigieg.

The prosecution was supposed to bring evidence to support their fear of tampering with evidence by the accused and in this case, they had failed to do so. 

“Does this mean that whenever a victim still has to testify, bail should never be granted?”argued the lawyer.

After hearing submissions the court, presided over by magistrate Josette Demicoli, denied bail in view of the prosecution’s objection, directing that the alleged victim was to testify at the first sitting.

The court also turned down a request for a ban on the accused’s name.

His lawyers argued that given current technology, today’s charges would forever overshadow the accused even if he were to be acquitted and would also risk his job. 

But the court declared that the requested ban lacked a valid legal basis. 

Inspectors Kylie Borg and Sarah Kathleen Zerafa also prosecuted. 

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