Cover photo right: NET News
The compilation of evidence in the murder case of Maria Lourdes Agius, the 35-year-old mother of seven from Paola who is suspected of being killed by Michael Emmanuel, her 28-year-old partner from the Ivory Coast, has revealed what happened on the morning of the 15th of September.
Presided by Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, the court heard how Lourdes’ mother was concerned her daughter might be in harm’s way, before finding her daughter’s dead body.
1. Emmanuel said he had intercourse with Lourdes, went to sleep, and woke up to find her dead
He said they had fallen asleep together at around 10pm on the 14th of September. When he woke up, he tried to wake her, but she didn’t wake up.
2. Emmanuel went to the police himself
At 7am that morning, Emmanuel went to the Paola police station of his own accord. He said he had tried to wake up Lourdes, but she was not moving.
3. Lourdes’ body looked like she was fast asleep
The mother said she thought her daughter had overslept due to the position she was lying in – she was laying on her bed facing the wall. However, Inspector James Grech said that the sergeant reporting on the case on the day knew the couple had had a domestic dispute two days earlier, and suspected she was dead.
4. When her mother found she was dead, she had to be separated from Emmanuel
The mother and Emmanuel began arguing, forcing the police to take Emmanuel to the roof by himself to separate them.
5. Forensic experts said she was choked to death
The police confirmed that Emmanuel and Lourdes had been living together for two years in Qawra before moving in with Lourdes’ mother in Paola. Forensic expert Dr Mario Scerri said that the bruises on her neck indicated that she had been strangled, and an autopsy confirmed that she had suffocated to death.
She had also been hit twice in the head, and had bruises all over her body, especially in the neck area. She also had a cut in her mouth, which the experts said most probably occurred while she was being strangled.
6. Emmanuel allegedly hit the victim’s mother with a chair on her back during an argument two days before her murder
On the 13th of September, the victim’s mother said Emmanuel and Lourdes had fought, with Emmanuel hitting both Lourdes and her mother. He allegedly kicked the mother and used a chair to hit her on the back. Both women were taken to Mater Dei, where they were confirmed to have slight scratches.
7. The family tried to call Aġenzija Appoġġ about Emmanuel, but they didn’t answer
The day after the fight, Lourdes and her brother forced Emmanuel out of the house, where he reportedly ended up sleeping on the street. The police tried to call Aġenzija Appoġġ to find somewhere for him to sleep, but the agency did not answer the phone.
8. The mother heard a disturbance at 2am on the night of her daughter’s murder
Lourdes’ mother said she heard a “disturbance” at 2am on the 15th of September, though she said she didn’t hear an argument. She said she also heard Emmanuel heading up to the roof by the staircase throughout the night.
At 7am the next morning, she asked Emmanuel where her daughter was. He said he didn’t know, and that she wasn’t at home. When the mother entered their bedroom, she found her daughter there.
9. He lied to police about his country of origin
When being interrogated by the police at their Headquarters in Floriana, Emmanuel told them he had been born in Ghana. Police soon found that he was from the Ivory Coast, and that he had come to Malta illegally in a boat in 2011, two years before meeting Lourdes.
10. The accused said he paid Lourdes €60 for sex on the day they met
When they met, Emmanuel said he asked her for sex, and ended up paying her €60. They began a relationship soon after. Three months later, she noticed she was pregnant, but Emmanuel was suspicious that the child was not his.
He asked for a DNA test, and the test showed that the child did not in fact belong to him, proving him right. However, he committed to raise the child as if it was his own.
11. Three of Lourdes’ seven children belong to Emmanuel
Lourdes was the mother of seven children, three of which were from Emmanuel.