Loan shark assaulted and threatened victim, court hears

A loan shark repeatedly threatened and assaulted a man as he demanded high interest rates on outstanding loans, a court heard today.

Testifying in the trial of Dunstan Caruana, who stands accused of usury, the victim, who cannot be named by court order, explained that in January 2013 he borrowed €15,000 from Joseph Manicaro known as Zuzu. This loan was later transferred to Dunstan Caruana, who initially demanded a repayment of €30,000.

A deed of loan was signed before Notary Charles Vella Zarb, whereby the victim agreed to repay the borrowed sum at the rate of 5 per cent per month.

But as more sums were subsequently borrowed, Mr Caruana started demanding higher rates of interest, while threatening the debtor and his family.

The victim said he was punched on several occasions.  

Repayments rose to some €1,200 per month.

The witness explained how whenever he missed a payment the accused would turn up outside his home or work place, threatening him.

The final assault took place outside his home last June when the accused got to know that the police had been informed. He said Mr Caruana had punched him and used a billiards stick to damage light fixtures on the facade. Neighbours intervened to stop the assault. 

The case continues. Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell is defence counsel. Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is appearing for the victim. Police inspector Frank Stivala prosecuted.