It was three months ago now that Malta was stunned by the news of a man who had trapped and raped his wife in an underground cave near Fort Rinella for three days without food or water. However, as the wheels of justice have started turning against the alleged abuser Roddy Williams, the case itself is now starting to look very cloudy.
The problem facing the court is that the alleged victim Nathalie Williams had first told police her husband had kidnapped her, then went full circle and said she had accompanied him to the cave voluntarily, and is now refusing to testify in court via video conference.
Her lawyer Ludvic Caruana today presented the court with a medical certificate, signed by psychiatrist David Cassar, declaring that his client was unfit to testify on mental grounds.
However, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit was not impressed at how Cassar had only written two lines to explain why Nathalie Williams should not be allowed to testify.
“This certificate leaves much to be desired. I was expecting a beefed-up explainer and not just a two-liner saying she is currently not fit to appear in court on mental health grounds,” she said, before calling up Cassar on her phone and ordering him to testify in court this Thursday.
The Kalkara cave where Natalie Williams was found last October
This means the court has now questioned two medical certificates signed on Williams’ behalf to explain her absence from testifying on Skype. Her lawyer last week turned up with a medical certificate signed by shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri, who was caught by Lovin Malta selling medical certificates to patients he hasn’t seen, but this was turned down by the courts on the grounds that Spiteri’s handwriting was illegible.
Today, Roddy Williams’ lawyer Marion Camilleri informed the court her client wants the police to investigate Stephen Spiteri for abusively handing out medical certificates – citing the Lovin Malta recording.
“We all have our reservations on Spiteri after that Lovin Malta article, and my client wants this case investigated,” Camilleri said.
Moreover, she questioned how Nathalie Williams can claim she is mentally unfit to testify in court when she had spoken to the police very soon after the cave case and when she had personally filed separation court proceedings against her husband a month after it happened.
Shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri
So what really happened?
Natalie Williams was reported missing on 28th October 2017 and was found two days later, after her family called in the police. In court today, a police sergeant said she had arrived at the scene to find Roddy Williams, his face battered and bloody and his legs tied up, pinned to the ground by Williams’ son Owen Vella. An agitated Vella told police he had bumped into Williams, asked him where his mother was, and came to blows when Williams tried to run away. Police officers informed Roddy he was under arrest and asked him whether Natalie was alive and safe, to which Roddy responded: “Of course, she’s alive, she’s my wife” and agreed to take police to the Kalkara cave. The police sergeant said the cave was pitch black, lacking oxygen and labyrinth-like, meaning police had to rely on Roddy to lead them to Natalie, who was lying down unconscious in a crevice.
Natalie had filed several domestic violence report against her husband over the years and Roddy was once convicted of having caused his wife grievous injuries. However, on this occasion, a nurse confirmed she showed no signs of domestic violence abuse.
Natalie told a court-appointed lawyer that her husband had abducted her and abandoned her inside the cave. However, the next day, she changed her testimony and told the lawyer she had actually voluntarily met her husband at the cave because she was afraid of him.
Natalie’s father Charles Higgins told The Malta Independent his daughter had moved back home with him ever since the latest domestic violence episode and that. Two days before the abduction case, Roddy had hid outside his house to wait for his ex-wife to arrive from work, tried to drag her back with him, but ran off. Less than 48 hours later, Charles Higgins filed a police report after his daughter didn’t arrive home from work.