CCTV installer who phoned defendant after arrest ‘was just returning a call’

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A technician who installed a CCTV system at Munchies Bar testified that he called the bar’s owner, David Busuttil, in response to a message the latter had left for him.

The call to Busuttil was made while the latter was under arrest and questioned about the death of an elderly man.

The technician told the court that Busuttil called him frequently for help and would simply return the call.

Busuttil, 59, owner of the Munchies bar in Buġibba, is charged with the murder of Roger Dudley-Ward, 60, who died after falling down the bar’s stairs following an argument with the accused.

Busuttil is also accused of causing serious injury, attempting to erase evidence and disturbing public order. He is currently out on bail, having been released in the first session following his arraignment.

At the last session, a police sergeant told the court how Busuttil’s phone started ringing while he was in custody at Qawra police station.

“When I checked, who was calling him, I saw it was a contact registered under the name ‘Mark Genovese’s CCTV Cameras’,” the sergeant had said. Genovese was later called in for questioning by police and later released a statement.

When the case was called before Magistrate Doreen Clarke on Tuesday, the prosecution called Genovese, who installs CCTV and alarm systems for a living, to the witness box.

Genovese said he had worked in the CCTV business for more than 10 years and acknowledged the defendant in court, explaining that he had also worked on his alarm systems earlier this year.

When asked if Busuttil had contacted him since March, he said he wasn’t sure. “I don’t know, he called me to put the fire alarm off, or because he didn’t know how to put the alarm on. Last time I got a message that said “when I wake up I’ll call her”.

The witness was shown a printed copy of a conversation between him and the accused which had been photographed on his mobile phone by a police officer. He confirmed that the conversation took place on June 11.

He said he was responding to a message received from the accused. “I called him as soon as I woke up. Nobody answered. It was on, but no one picked up. Five minutes later, I received a call from police headquarters, telling me that they were calling me because I had called the number and asking me to go to HQ.

Genovese continued: “I was asked how I know him, why he messaged me. I didn’t know why he texted me. I saw the message and called back. I was asked not to talk to him [by the police] and I haven’t spoken to him since.

Cross-examined by lawyer Franco Debono, the witness confirmed that Busuttil called him frequently for help. “He was still green when it came to those things. He didn’t even know how to activate the alarm, every week he called me about something,” the witness said.

The court pointed out that the calls appeared to have been made mostly at night.

This was because the fire alarm would go off and Busuttil would not know how to turn it off, the witness explained.

Later in the hearing, the court granted a defense request to release the restaurant from court custody, given that the prosecution had not opposed it.

The magistrate authorized the officially appointed expert to hand over the keys.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are the defendant’s defense lawyers.

Prosecutor Abigail Caruana Vella appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s office.

Detective Ryan Vella appeared for the charge.

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