Ħal Għaxaq double-murder: ‘He saved me from an abusive relationship’

The compilation of evidence against Joseph Bonnici started on Monday morning. Bonnici is accused of killing his mother Marija Lourdes Bonnici and his sister Angele Bonnici in cold blood.

During his arraignment, Bonnici pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. He had however confessed to having killed them to the police.

Prosecuting police inspector Keith Arnaud told the court that the accused had given three statements to the police. Bonnici had reported his mother and sister as missing with the police, prior to his father reporting them as missing after they failed to turn up for a prison visit. Bonnici’s father is serving a 31-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of killing their next door neighbours.

Why did he kill them?

The prosecution told the court that when they asked the accused why he had resorted to killing his relatives, he had said that it was bottled up anger which led him to do this. Arnaud told the court that on one hand the accused believed that his sister had alleged she was sexually abused by her brother while their mother on the other hand was instigating his sister to report him.

Arnaud further said that no police report was ever filed relating to the abuse while the victims had never sought assistance. Bonnici in one of his statements had said that he had heard the women colluding against him, the court heard.

Inspector John Spiteri said that Angele’s friend had confidentially told him that Bonnici was sexually abusing Angele. The accused denied these claims, and insisted that she was spreading these rumours so that he would buy her a BMW.

Bonnici told Inspector Spiteri that back in 2009; his girlfriend had committed suicide in the same house. In her suicide note, she wrote how his mother never liked their relationship and that now she could rest.

The method

Arnaud described how Bonnici told the police that he had spent time planning his mother’s and sister’s murder. After his confession, he said that after killing his relatives, he carried their corpses to a field in Gudja which was owned by the family.

Bonnici described how he enjoyed the fact that it was raining on the day of the two were murdered. Security cameras showed that Angele and Marija were both in their pajamas. However, the cameras stopped working at 9pm, because Bonnici switched off the main electrical switch. The event took place in their garden, where he walked behind Angele and shot her in her head. After, he also hit her with a mallet. He similarly killed his mother later. Bonnici then placed a plastic bag around the women’s heads, and placed them in a trailer before proceeding to bury the corpses. After the burial, he went to sleep, the court heard.

On the following day, the accused went to buy a power wash with which he cleaned the garden. He also burnt the sacks which he had used to cover the floor. Bonnici later disposed of the gun and the mallet. He had buried his mother first and then his sister on top of her, covering the bodies in lime, to decrease the smell.

The weapons used

Bonnici eventually led the police to where he had hid the gun. He then explained how to use the firearm that he created himself. The mallet was thrown away in a facility of Wasteserv, and weighed 6.2kgs.

The accused has a number of registered firearms which he uses for hunting. However, he didn’t use any of these for the murder as they made too much noise.

He shot Angele twice in the head, in her temple and in her eye. Her face was also scarred as a result of being hit by the mallet. He also shot his mother near her right eye. Their legs were both tied.

The father’s response

Inspector John Spiteri had received phone calls from Żejtun’s Police Station reporting about missing persons. On 28 March Joseph Bonnici received a phone call from his father Paul Bonnici from prison. The father informed his son that he was worried because he never missed a call with his wife, which took place every day at the same time.The father also mentioned that he had sold the house to his son before he was arrested. This had caused some tension between the son and his sister.

Paul Bonnici informed the Court regarding an outstanding civil case he is facing, where he and his wife Marija were asked to pay €80,000 to compensate the victims. The accused alleged that his mother and sister might have fled the country to prevent paying the €80,000. However, the Police concluded that this theory was not reasonable, due to the fact that Angele’s electronic equipment and cheques were left in her room, and Marija’s mobile and purse were also left there. The Police also found that the victims did not carry any passports in their names, and therefore, couldn’t travel. It was at that moment that the police filed a missing persons report.

The Police also talked to the victims’ neighbours, and Paul Bonnici’s siblings.

After the murder

Following the murder, Bonnici attempted to try to cover up the murder. For example, he went to look for his sister at work, yet left immediately when they informed him she was not there. He also tried to call her one day after the murder.

The accused was heard saying that he did something wrong, after getting arrested.

The murder took place after Bonnici’s girlfriend fell asleep in another room.

Bonnici’s girlfriend testifies

Bonnici’s girlfriend, who has been with him for nine years, testified in Court on Monday.

She told the Court that she visited the police station twice on Friday. One of which was because Bonnici called her saying he’s sorry without giving her any context.

She explained how Bonnici works as a flower deliveryman and therefore, he a van and tools at his disposal. Bonnici and his girlfriend lived next door to each other, and even share the same electricity bill.

The accused’s sister Angele had once told his girlfriend that Bonnici had sexually touched her when they were young, saying that their mother was aware of the incident. His current girlfriend also stated that she was aware about his ex-girlfriend and that she committed suicide.

On the night of the murder, Bonnici’s girlfriend entered the house to find that there was no electricity and went to sleep.

The girlfriend of accused said that he had never been violent towards her. On the contrary, he had saved her from an abusive relationship. She continued to say how he always treated her respect and love, and that he’s the best person she knows.

The case was adjourned for 15 April.

Inspectors Keith Arnaud, John Spiteri and Roderick Attard are prosecuting.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are appearing as defence counsel for the accused.