The man accused of murdering Charlene Farrugia – who went missing in 2008 – is blaming someone else for the murder, though he did admit to hiding the body himself.
This emerged as the compilation of evidence against John Paul Charles Woods began on Monday. Woods, who was arraigned on 3 July, is charged with murdering Farrugia in November 2008, holding her against her will, hiding her body and carrying an unlicensed bladed weapon.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and in Court, prosecuting inspector James Grech recounted that Woods blamed another man for the murder. The defence has provisionally asked for his name not to be published; the Court is yet to rule on their request.
Farrugia’s remains had been discovered in in July 2019 when Woods, who had been arrested in the wake of a hold-up at a Gżira convenience shop, led the police to a location in the ditch behind Valletta’s City Gate. Farrugia had been 25 years old at the time of her disappearance.
Police Inspectors James Grech and Jonathan Ransley are prosecuting. Lawyer Mario Mifsud is appearing for the family, while lawyer Roberta Bonello is appearing for the accused.
With Court now adjourned, our blog ends here.
The compilation of evidence continues on Wednesday, starting at 2pm. Another sitting will be held on Friday.
As mentioned earlier, Farrugia had reported his daughter missing back in 2008. He had been abroad when she disappeared.
Farrugia's father is set to testify in another sitting. The prosecution is asking for this testimony to be delivered via videoconferencing.
The defence will make its cross-examination at a later stage.
Next to be submitted is Woods' confession, made on July 2019, and his refusal of legal assistants. CDs bearing the recordings of the police interrogations of Woods are also presented.
Drawings made by Woods himself, showing bloodstains on the apartment wall, are submitted in Court, along with reports by the CVA cameras, showing that her car had been seen entering Valletta after her murder in 2008.
A certificate showing that Woods was fit to be interrogated on 20 July, 2019 is also presented.
Insp. Grech also presented the report he filed on 24 September, 2019, treating the case as a homicide.
The missing persons report filed by Farrugia's father, dated 4 November, 2008, is presented in Court.
He was ultimately arraigned on the following day – 3 July – with the police holding a press conference on the occasion.
Each time he was confronted with his own conflicting testimony, he became nervous, started shuffling around and insulting the police officer. He refused to cooperate, this time.
On this occasion, however, Woods' attitude was considerably different.
The police last spoke to Woods on 2 July, 2020, when he was on police bail, Since Woods had changed his story on a number of occasions, they felt the need to clarify some matters.
The suspect's questions echoed the police's own concerns. Among other things, he questioned how Woods brought Farrugia's remains on a bus trip from St Paul's Bay to Valletta, and questioned his failure to file a police report.
On one occasion, a confrontation was arranged between Woods and the other suspect, with Woods confirming his version of events. The suspect took some notes, and was given the possibility to make comments and ask questions.
They spoke to the alleged murderer and his then-girlfriend on various occasions.
But after 11 years, it would be difficult to unearth fresh evidence.
Woods gave another statement to the police, while investigations continued. The police considered other scenarios and interrogated other persons.
These questions remain unanswered, according to the officer.
They also questioned his assertion that the alleged killed picked up the garbage bags from outside the apartment: how would he have known these contained Farrugia's remains?
The police questioned Woods' failure to seek medical help after receiving a stab wound on his shoulder.
On 8 August, Woods said that he chopped up Farrugia's body and took her remains down to Floriana on the same day.
The police felt that Woods' testimony failed to make sense: his stories conflicted with each other.
He took the bus to reach the area, hiding the sacks in luggage.
The sacks of concrete mix were taken to Floriana, in a shelter behind the Phoenicia hotel. Woods went to acquire heroin, and left them there.
He saw the other suspect enter the car, with a woman in tow.
The garbage bags were taken outside. But he soon discovered that while the garbage had not been collected, the bags had been picked up.
He then set out to chop up her remains, distributing them among 5 garbage bags. More were needed, so he ended up buying two sacks of concrete mix.
Woods had to pick up his girlfriend at 2pm, so he brought out Farrugia's body and covered it in a mattress.
He was aware that Charlene would have a handbag, but it was nowhere to be found. However, her mobile phone and car keys were still at the apartment
Woods said that he did not know what to do, so he decided to chop up Farrugia's body so that he may dispose of it.
The suspect failed to appear for some two days.
Woods says that the suspect never returned, leaving him alone with Farrugia's body in the apartment.
The suspect asked Woods to calm down, telling him he would bring drugs because he looked unwell.
The other suspect was holding a blade, and Woods questioned what he had done.
The suspect swung his blade, but ended up slipping on some plastic that was on the floor.
He saw no one in the corridors, so he moved on to the bedroom, where he saw Farrugia – leaning against the wall. She appeared to be dead.
The suspect told him to bring syringes, while he would take care of procuring the heroin. Woods says that while the syringes were being acquired from a pharmacy, he returned to the apartment.
The witness says that the suspect would procure drugs which he would share with Woods. Ultimately, he showed up with Farrugia.
The magistrate replies "we shall see later".
Dr Bonello asks the court for a ban on the publication of the name of the second man since he has not been arrested.
Farrugia was desperate telling her partner in prison that she had no money. Attard is heard saying 'have you seen John?' and she replies 'He came twice pestering me', and he asks whether she asked for the money. Farrugia had told him that she would be going the next day. The next day is when she was killed.
The accused seems to disagree with this.
Woods was out on police bail in August 2019. He had asked to speak to the police urgently. During this interrogation he mentioned another man. The other man, was the police's main suspect back in 2008.
Police Inspector Grech refers to a phone call between Attard and the victim on 5 November.
On the day, Attard's children returned home from school but Farrugia was not at home. They waited in the common area till around 4pm. A missing person's report was filed.
From the investigations it transpired that Attard was arraigned in court two days before she went missing and was remanded in custody. Farrugia had gone to the Police Headquarters for Attard's car and to obtain permission to be able to see her partner in prison.
This was the last time Farrugia was seen.
The police inspector says that from what Woods has said it seems that there was another person involved.
Woods was interrogated by the police on 30 July 2019. He refused legal assistance once again.
Woods' ex-partner still owns the apartment in St Paul's Bay. It remains unfurnished even though it is still used from time to time.
Woods had accompanied the Police at the apartment and showed them around.
The police managed to carry out DNA testing despite the passage of time.
Woods accompanied the Police to the crime scene on 20 July 2019.
After his statement Woods had taken to the police on site.
Woods had denied telling Kevin Brincat to leave the car at Verdala.
He had given the victim's car to a friend who knew nothing about the homicide. He had asked him to leave the car somewhere in Valletta.
After he killed her, he had dragged Farrugia's body onto a mattress in the courtyard.
He left the body beneath the mattress. The next day he found blood in the courtyard. The neighbours complained about the foul smell. He then proceeded to cut her up and threw two bags containing body parts of the victim in two different skips.
Woods cleaned the area and ensured there was no blood left.
Woods and the victim had an argument. He stabbed her on the day.
Woods had said that Charlene was pestering him for €200 he owned to her partner. He said that she had threaten him with telling her then boyfriend that they had an affair when this was not true.
Some of the body parts were thrown away in the rubbish. The victim's head and legs were placed in a sack. He then added a concrete mix to the body parts before hiding them away in a ditch.
Woods told the police that he had murdered a person who was named either Charlene or Charmaine. The victim was 17 at the time and was seeing a certain person Jonathan Attard who was known as Harry Potter. Attard was in jail at the time.
Woods used to work at his partner's flat in Triq Efesu in St Paul's Bay. Charlene used to live on the same road.
Woods had stabbed her in the neck and she did not die immediately. The accused told the police that he suffocated her until she died.
He then proceeded to cut her up.
Woods willingly refused the right to be assisted by a lawyer at the time of police statement.
Police Inspector James Grech explains that the investigation was triggered when the accused was arrested over a different case. While at Mater Dei Hospital, the accused asked to speak about a homicide which had happened some 16 years before.
Charlene Farrugia's sister, Noemi Farrugia is also present in the courtroom.
The courtroom is very small and the magistrate asked those who are not press to leave due to the size of the room and the distancing necessary due to coronavirus measures.
Magistrate Marseann Farrugia who is wearing a face shield walks into the courtroom.
The accused just walked into the courtroom.
Police Inspector James Grech and defence counsel Roberta Bonello are already present in the courtroom.
Good afternoon and welcome to this live blog. We're live from courtroom 3.