Argument over accused's child led to Ħamrun murder

Knife fight had ensued between the accused and the victim

The violent argument which led to the murder of Brandon Pace outside his Ħamrun residence on April 2 was allegedly sparked off by a heated telephone exchange between the victim's partner and the grandmother of the accused's child earlier in the afternoon.

This was said in court today during the compilation of evidence against Kurt Grech and his father Joseph, from Pietà, in relation to their alleged involvement in the violent episode which resulted in the murder of Mr Pace.

On that fateful Sunday, the Grech family had spent the afternoon at the Marsa racecourse where their horse had won a trophy after placing first. The six-year-old son of Kurt Grech and his former partner Jessica Bilocca, was with his paternal grandparents when he spotted his maternal grandfather and uncle and begged to go with them.

After granting the child's wish, Anna Marie Grech, his paternal grandmother, called the boy's mother to inform her.

The call allegedly resulted in a slandering match since the boy's mother reportedly did not wish her son to visit her parents' home. She herself admitted later to the police that she had already "lost" her elder son who insisted on living with the grandparents and so feared that her younger child would follow suit.

The telephone argument allegedly angered Kurt Grech so much that he armed himself with two kitchen knives from the family home in Pieta and set off to Giovanni Barbara street, Ħamrun to face his son's mother who was currently living with Brandon Pace.

The weapons had allegedly been taken since he feared Mr Pace's temperament. His parents, Joseph and Anna Marie Grech, also arrived outside the block in Giovanni Barbara Street driving a separate car.

Although Lisa Pace, the victim's mother, had reportedly gone down to face the Grechs in an attempt to calm the waters and although Anna Marie Grech had allegedly tried to shut the common entrance door so as to prevent her son from going inside, the situation soon got out of hand.

The court heard how Jessica Bilocca had allegedly begun to hurl tiles from the balcony onto the Grechs. Inspector Elliott Magro in fact today testified that, arriving at the scene after the stabbing incident, he had been met with fragments of broken tiles and blood stains in the street as well as on the terrace at street level.

When Ms Bilocca and Mr Pace joined Lisa Pace downstairs, a knife fight ensued between the two accused and the victim who had also allegedly armed himself with a knife. The court today heard that the two knives belonging to Kurt Grech had been discovered inside a vent hole close to the Grech home in Pietà, but the weapon belonging to Brandon Pace was not found.

The prosecution explained how the fight had taken place outside in the street and how the victim had staggered to the apartment block before collapsing in the common entrance.

Lisa Pace, the victim's mother, had told the police that she had seen her son being stabbed by the accused after slipping in the street. Kurt Grech, the co-accused, later said under arrest that after being stabbed by Brandon Pace, he had hit back losing count of the number of wounds inflicted.

When the victim's mother had shouted out "You've killed my son," Joseph Grech had allegedly retorted "Let him die".

Inspector Magro also explained how relations between Kurt Grech and Jessica Bilocca had become so strained that arrangements regarding the child were generally conducted with Kurt's mother rather than with Kurt himself.

Some six months ago, Ms Bilocca had allegedly punched her former partner with a knuckle duster, but no police report was lodged.

Joseph Grech, the co-accused, had also told the police that reports had been filed with Appoġġ regarding the wellbeing of the couple's young child. The boy sometimes told his father that he was hungry and on occasions had arrived from his mother's home unwashed and with soiled clothes.

A policewoman who accompanied Jessica Bilocca on her way to hospital, where she had to be treated for stab wounds on her thigh, today testified that the woman had been in a terrible state of panic.

While in the ambulance, the police woman had overheard Ms Bilocca in a tense telephone exchange with her father where she told him "in-nemes, in-nemes killed il-galali." The father reportedly had disapproved of her relationship with Brandon Pace. Moreover, her parents were troubled by her drug problem.

Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Elliott Magro prosecuted. Lawyer Roberto Montalto was defence counsel. Lawyers Noel Bianco and Silvio Brincat appeared parte civile.