first_imgThe Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been criticised for failing to treat as a disability hate crime a case in which a disabled man was forced to work for a pittance and live in a shed for 35 years.Three people were convicted unanimously by a jury last week of requiring the 52-year-old man to perform forced or compulsory labour, after a four-week trial at Oxford Crown Court.The man, who has learning difficulties, was forced to live in a brick shed that was described as unfit for human habitation, and to undertake heavy manual labour, working for more than 12 hours a day, for which he was paid just £5 a day.If he failed to work hard enough he was beaten, on at least one occasion with a metal bar.The three defendants also applied for and collected his benefits – worth £139,000 – for 13 years and as a result were also convicted of conspiracy to defraud following a trial last November.They will be sentenced next month for this charge, and the forced labour, but CPS has already confirmed to Disability News Service that the offences have not been treated as disability hate crime.A linked case, which in June last year saw another four defendants convicted of forced labour, involving another man with learning difficulties in the same area of Oxford, was also not treated as disability hate crime.Thames Valley Police, which carried out both investigations, was unable to comment on the latest case this week because the officer dealing with the case was on leave.But a CPS spokesman said: “Disabled people face criminal behaviour every day. “Sometimes, this will be motivated by hostility towards their disability and on other occasions they will be in at-risk situations and exploited because of that.“We considered prosecuting this case as a disability hate crime but could not identify any evidence to show the offence had been committed because of hostility towards the victim based on his disability.“The offenders saw an opportunity to exploit the victim for their own personal gain.“Sentencing is a matter for the courts but the CPS will ask that a victim’s disability is taken into account.”Anne Novis (pictured), a leading disabled hate crime campaigner and a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said: “Repeatedly we have to ask the question, ‘Why?’“Why is it not a disability hate crime when a disabled person is abused, humiliated, stolen from, made to do work they do not want to do?“For us, it is common sense that if someone is targeted due to perceived ‘vulnerability’ and that ‘vulnerability’ is due to being a disabled person then that is hate crime.“No matter what the law or the CPS say, we, disabled people, are the experts. We know what is or is not hate crime and it is our voice, our perception, and that of the victim that should take precedence.“It is obvious that the justice system still has a lot of work to do on this issue. Such cases do not inspire our confidence.”Meanwhile, a new CPS report has shown that the number of cases of disability hate crime prosecuted in 2015-16 increased by more than 40 per cent compared with the previous year, rising from 666 to 941.The number of convictions also rose by more than 40 per cent, from 503 to 707, although the conviction rate fell slightly, from 75.5 per cent to 75.1 per cent (it was as high as 81.9 per cent in 2013-14).The report says CPS will “identify and execute further work necessary to address the relatively low conviction rate”, comparing it with the overall hate crime conviction rate of 83.2 per cent.The number of cases in which the sentence was increased because the court accepted the offences were disability hate crimes also rose, from 5.4 per cent of successfully prosecuted disability hate crime cases in 2014-15 to 11.9 per cent of such cases in 2015-16. This rate had been as low as 0.6 per cent in 2013-14.The CPS report said the figure still remained “considerably lower” than for other hate crime strands, and promised to work internally to “sustain continuing improvement”, while work would “also be undertaken with the courts to ensure consistent application of sentence uplifts”.The report also revealed that the proportion of both 10-13 year olds and 14-17-year-olds involved as defendants in disability hate crime prosecutions fell from 4.9 per cent and 23.5 per cent in 2007-08 to 1.3 per cent and 9.6 per cent in 2015-16.The report says: “The CPS benefits from a strong relationship with communities affected by disability hate crime as a result of a combination of structured engagement and transparent performance and hopes that, together with an improved conviction rate, community confidence will continue to grow.“In turn, it is hoped that this will provide an environment in which increased numbers of those affected by hate crime will feel able to report.”Stephen Brookes, another leading hate crime campaigner and DHCN coordinator, said the increase in prosecutions was “good news”.But he warned against complacency, and added: “There are still far too many inconsistencies in police, CPS and the judiciary responses, and the gap shown between good and bad practice is massive.”He said the work done by the network had been “a key part of the improvements seen today, and the message from us is, ‘The fight isn’t won yet.’“Rather, we are at the beginning of the real battle of getting closer cooperation between all partners, criminal justice system, disabled people, academics, and the media, who can help with the message that disability hate crime is on its way out.”last_img read more

first_imgTHE group got a well-earned rest and a day of activities from start to finish, writes Mike Rush, Head of Youth.The day started with White Water Rafting on the Olympic course. This always goes down well with all concerned, a little disappointing this year with no Derek Traynor (no reported injury) or his sidekick Steve Leonard (again no reported injury) taking part in the activity.We placed the dangerous ones in a boat together, this included a member of staff with Neil Kilshaw (aka Killer) joining the crazy gang. Needless to say Killer had four out on the first white water corner.The lads made a play for the staff boat and with a little luck and help from the guide the six staff members came out one after the other.On a different note the staff boat had its own problem with Tommy Martyn pushing people out the boat which was not in the team briefing…The kids enjoyed the chance to relax and as the pictures will show they took to it likes ducks to water.Following a good feed we headed off to go karting.The first race for the younger players was an easy win for Lewis Galbraith, although there was a hint of a rumour that he did have a 13 hp kart and not a 9 hp kart; Matty Fozard will still be moaning next season.The second race which was brought to an end early due to poor driving from the young men – and was won by Lewis Foster with Dom Speakman in second place.The staff plus Bradley Ashurst, Danny Yates, James Tilley and Adam Swift was won by Adam with Eric “Discovery” Frodsham 2nd, and Andy “Rodney Trotter” McDonough in third. Andy was also pulled over for dangerous driving which for those on the track is no surprise.Once again Thomas Martyn cheated and overtook others in the no overtaking area… Nothing more than you would expect reallyLeo (Ste) had the gaff of the day placing his driving gloves on the wrong way with the grips on his knuckles. I am not sure it would have made any difference as his feet struggled to reach the pedals so he was only able to get 50 % power anyway.Next year we must remember his driving seat as it just isn’t fair on him. (Kailum please remind your Dad to lend Leo your seat)Bradley gave Leo a run for his money with the question: “do these hair nets come in different sizes?”And in third place Jamie Tracey with: “I don’t need sun cream… this white water rafting is inside isn’t it?”The last one for the day is from Chris Webster who informed the Physio “Rodney” that his ankle was painful. At this point Rodney told him to ice it. Ten minutes later Chris approached the Physio to inform him he didn’t know what was wrong now but his ankle was numb…Training starts again tomorrow so back to the important stuff.last_img read more

first_img SharePrint 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 methodArnaud 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 responseInspector 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 murderFollowing 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.WhatsApp <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

first_imgArchdiocese of MiamiArchdiocese of Miami Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Peter Baldacchino to head the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Catholic News Agency reported that the Bishop is the first diocesan bishop associated with the Neocatechumenal Way to serve in a mainland U.S. diocese.The 58-year-old bishop has served as an Auxiliary Bishop in Miami Florida since 2014. He was ordained priest in 1996 at the Archdiocese of Newark.Baldacchino was born in Malta to a family of four children. His family joined the Neocatechumenal Way while he was still a child. He was not initially drawn to the priesthood. He read for a degree in science at the University of Malta. At the age of 28, he attended World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, after which he became more involved in the Neocatechumenal Way.Baldacchino served for over a decade as a missionary in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. He speaks Maltese, English, Italian, Creole and Spanish.The Diocese of Las Cruces was established in 1982. According to 2015 estimates, it has more than 236,600 Catholics, accounting for just over 42% of the area’s population.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more