Femicide victim Bernice Cassar told police a week before her murder that her husband had breached a court order designed to protect her from the man who allegedly once held a knife to her throat.

A timeline of the mother-of-two's calls for help, given to Times of Malta, shows how she faced court and police delays as she tried to protect herself.

She was murdered at 8am on Tuesday morning while driving to work in the Corradino industrial estate, Paola. Her estranged husband Roderick Cassar is the only suspect in the case. He was arrested early on Wednesday morning after a 17-hour standoff. 

May 8: knife to the throat

Sources said that Bernice moved out of the matrimonial home with her two children on May 8, Mother's Day, after her husband allegedly held a knife to her throat.

Cassar was to be charged over the assault in a case that was scheduled for November 17, 2023 - a year from now. 

July 14: a threat and protection order

On July 14 he was in hospital and Bernice took the children to the hospital car park to see their father.

There, an argument ensued and Roderick Cassar threatened to “kill you and blow your brains out.”

Following the incident Bernice, through her lawyer Marita Pace Dimech, filed an application for a protection order which was issued for her protection on July 27, the sources said.

But the order was breached.

November 13: seven hours to file a police report

Last week, on November 13, the estranged husband turned up outside the Floriana health centre while Bernice was there and made a scene.

That day – it was a Sunday - Bernice and her lawyer went to file a police report at the Floriana police headquarters. But after waiting from 7pm to midnight they returned the following day and waited from 4.15pm to 6.45pm before they managed to get the report on file.

Her estranged husband was to go to the police headquarters on Sunday to be spoken to by police but never turned up.

November 21: Another report, one day before her murder 

On Monday, she filed a report over defaming comments on social media.

The following morning she was murdered.

Her sister Alessia Cilia has spoken out about the failures of the authorities to protect the 40-year-old.

"She reported and cried for help but the authorities never really cared. She was sad yesterday because Christmas was around the corner and she was fighting for her safety and that of her kids," she said. 

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has launched an inquiry to investigate whether state entities failed her. 

“If there were failures we want to know who was responsible and what needs to be done to fix this,” he said.

Retired judge Geoffrey Valencia has been appointed to look into the case, which is the first since a new criminal law introduced the term 'femicide' into Malta's criminal code. 

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