Updated 5pm

A man who stands accused of raping his girlfriend's mother in 2018 told police during interrogation in 2019 that he as well as all the other members of the household were terrified of 'the demon'.

A recording of the interrogation was played in court on Wednesday as the man's trial continued.

Prosecutors allege that the 22-year-old raped the mother, forced her and her daughter to perform sexual activities and effectively held them hostage inside their own home. He is pleading not guilty. 

The interrogation was conducted by police inspectors Eman Hayman and Oriana Spiteri in the presence of lawyer Jason Azzopardi. 

In the recording, the accused - whose name cannot be published by court order - denied that he had any part in the abuse that occurred in the house, instead blaming “the voice of the demon” for injuring members of the household, including himself, and giving orders for “punishments”. 

The accused said that the entire family could hear the voice of the "demon," often while they were all in the same room, where, he said, it would have been obvious if one of them had been pretending to make the voice. 

The demon, he claimed, had on occasion given him instructions,  sometimes speaking in Maltese and sometimes speaking in a language that he did not recognize.

On occasion, he said, he and the family had witnessed glasses being smashed on the floor.

Fear of the demon’s presence had been the cause of their eventual unconventional sleeping arrangement. He, his girlfriend, her sister and her mother started sleeping together in two single beds that had been pushed together, he said, because they feared the voice of the demon would come to them in the night. 

His girlfriend’s father had left to live with his father for some time as he was afraid of the house, but eventually returned and slept on the sofa. 

His girlfriend’s mother, he told police, had an interest in the occult that predated him. She kept strange objects in the house like Ouija boards and cursed dolls. The dolls, he claimed, would cause inexplicable events in the house, such as flooded floors which he and his girlfriend’s father would sometimes spend all night trying to clean up. 

Assault with broomstick

Questioning eventually led the accused to give his version of events about an alleged sexual assault on his girlfriend’s mother involving a broomstick.

“Once, while we were all together in the bedroom, the demon asked my girlfriend’s mother to strip naked. I turned my head and covered my face with a pillow because I knew my girlfriend would not want me to look at her naked mother,” he said. 

The demon, he told the police, had called on his girlfriend’s mother and sister by name to give them instructions. 

He said he continued to look away until the ordeal was over and when they told him it was finished, he looked up to see that his girlfriend’s mother was fully clothed. 

The demon, he said, often punished his girlfriend’s mother, sometimes hitting her or instructing her to hit and insult her husband. 

The accused claimed that he also suffered the wrath of the demon, as it also hit him and pulled his leg to trip him down the stairs. A stand fan was also thrown at him, hitting him in the back of the head. 

“It was frightening for us all but no one dared leave the house,” he said. 

Asked what he did to try and escape the demon, the accused said he could not go back to his mother’s house as she did not want him to live there while he was dating his girlfriend.

The family, he said, had contacted exorcist Fr John Vella who went to bless the house and prayed with them. 

But things got worse as the family tried to seek help to remove the demon, he claimed.

The police confronted the accused, telling him that when they spoke to his girlfriend’s mother by her hospital bed, she told them that the demon had taken the form of the accused and sexually assaulted her with the broomstick. That immediately flustered the accused, who denied it. 

“It’s just not true,” he said. 

“But if your face was covered, then how would you know that the demon didn’t take your form?” inspector Hayman had asked. 

“I didn’t do anything of the sort, if it was the demon who took my shape, I think they would have known that it was the demon and not me,” he said. 

The police also asked the accused about another incident in which the demon was said to have instructed his girlfriend’s mother to strip, kneel and say the act of contrition.

Throughout this incident, the accused was allegedly asleep on the other side of the same bed. 

“So you were in the same room and heard none of this?” the inspector asked him. 

“I was asleep facing the other side, they told me about it in the morning,” he said. 

He vehemently denied the sister’s accusation that it had been him making the demon voice and abusing them. 

“How could it have been me when these things were happening even when I wasn’t in the house,” he had said agitatedly. 

He denied ever forcing his girlfriend into sex and said that all sexual encounters between them happened consensually.

While he initially told investigators that he had a cordial relationship with his girlfriend’s sister, he said that the woman had later accused him of being a paedophile, because of the age gap between him and his girlfriend. 

A court has heard that the accused was 17 or 18 when he started dating the then-14-year-old. 

“So you didn’t have a good relationship with your girlfriend’s sister then?” he was asked. 

“Honestly, I didn’t expand on the matter further because I didn’t want to cause problems in the family, but it didn’t bother me because I know that I am not a paedophile, so it wasn’t going to affect me,” the accused replied. 

The police also confronted him about his girlfriend’s mother changing her version of events about the broomstick assault, later calling the inspector to tell him that she had remembered that the accused had had his face covered during the incident. 

The accused admitted that he had spoken to the woman after his arrest. 

“Could it be that you tried to influence her to have her version of events match yours?” the police prodded. 

“No, nothing of the sort, we only reminded her of the truth,” he had replied.

“But it happened to be a truth that was convenient to you. Why did you insist on speaking to her about such a traumatic thing?” the police asked.  

“Because she was the one that brought it up and told us that she had told the inspector that she saw the demon take my form and assaulted her. She was saying things I didn’t do, so I wanted to remind her that before she said something she should be sure that it's true because I didn’t do those things that she said I did.” 

Exorcist didn’t notice anything supernatural in the house

Exorcist Father John Vella, who testified on Wednesday, said that the family had sought his help and guidance about potential supernatural occurrences in their home. 

“They asked me to bless their house and I did. It was totally run down, there was a mess everywhere,” he said. 

“Did you notice anything supernatural in the house?” the prosecution asked. 

“I didn’t notice anything while I was there. There were some fragments on the ground, but I don’t know what that was, I only know what they told me.” 

Vella said the family claimed that a grandfather clock had moved in their absence and that after he finished the blessing a clock had fallen off the wall. 

“But again I don’t know if this was supernatural or the clock had just fallen off.” 

The priest said he had been to the family’s Marsascala home on three occasions, he blessed the home, once he said exorcism prayers and on another occasion he celebrated Mass. 

Asked whether he suggested the family seek medical care, Vella replied that he did, and was assured by the mother that she was receiving psychiatric care. 

“Of course, I advised her to stay away from things like contacting spirits, but I believe that spiritual guidance is not enough, we have to take care of mental health as well, and she told me that she had gone to Mount Carmel Hospital several times for treatment,” he said. 

Vella noted that the family told him they heard a voice that sometimes gave them orders, but they never elaborated with examples.

Mifsud asked Vella whether privately and outside the bounds of confession, any members of the family had ever expressed doubt about the demon. 

“No, I don’t recall that they did,” he said. 

“But let's say one of them may have said something to you in confession, would you have had a way to let someone else know that something in the situation is not right without giving up the secret?” Mifsud asked. 

“Yes of course,” he replied. “There is a way to guide the person who is confessing by which you can oblige them to speak up so that someone else is not blamed for something they have not done, let’s say. We always do our best to help people.”

Testimony by a police sergeant who questioned the alleged victims was also heard earlier on Wednesday. 

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