House collapse victim never made it to therapy for anxiety caused by construction works that claimed her life

Miriam Pace never made it to the first session with her therapist to deal with anxiety caused by construction work next to her house because she was killed in the collapse

Building collapse victim Miriam Pace (left) with her daughter, Ivana Portelli. Ivana told the court her mother was scheduled to visit a therapist to deal with anxiety caused by the construction works that eventually claimed her life.
Building collapse victim Miriam Pace (left) with her daughter, Ivana Portelli. Ivana told the court her mother was scheduled to visit a therapist to deal with anxiety caused by the construction works that eventually claimed her life.

Building collapse victim Miriam Pace had been diagnosed with anxiety, caused by the planned construction next door, a court has been told.

Architect Roderick Camilleri, site technical officer Anthony Mangion, contractor Ludwig Dimech and labourer Nicholas Spiteri are charged with causing Pace’s death through negligence.

The compilation of evidence against the men continued this morning.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud heard Ivana Portelli, Pace’s daughter, testify. The Pace family had started looking to move house after hearing rumours of the sale of the land next door in August 2019, she said. They had spoken to an agent who arranged a meeting with the developer to discuss the works. 

“My mother was hesitant about the project. The PA notification was issued and her anxiety increased… She was worried about accidents which could happen as there had been others that year,” Portelli said.

It had been suggested that she attend therapy with a psychologist, but never made it to the first meeting because of the collapse.

The court was provided with copies of WhatsApp chats on this subject.

Pace was prescribed pills for anxiety, caused by the lack of control she had over the situation, said the daughter. 

“On 18 February she sent me a message on WhatsApp because she was scared, having heard a lot of tremors inside the house,” the daughter recounted. Pace had also sent a photo of a mechanical shovel from the roof.

The Paces had spoken to Malcolm Mallia and voiced their concerns. Mallia had assured them that all was under control and that there was no need to worry, she said. 

A meeting with the architect and Mallia and Ludwig Dimech was set up. The issue of 2.5ft was mentioned, she said. If the trench was made flush with the wall a trencher would be used, otherwise another tool would have to be used with great noise and vibration. No geological surveys were made, she said.

The case continues.

Inspectors Robert Vella and Matthew Galea are prosecuting. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela are appearing on behalf of the architects. Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are assisting Spiteri. Lawyers Michael Sciriha, Roberto Montalto, Lucio Sciriha and Franco Galea are counsel to Dimech.

The Pace family were represented by lawyers Joe Giglio and David Bonello. Lawyer Stefano Filletti is assisting other neighbours.

The case continues on 9 July.

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