Judge ups architects' punishment over Miriam Pace's death

In addition to confirming their community service orders, the two architects were today also handed a suspended sentence over the 2020 fatal Santa Venera house collapse, after AG's appeal. 

Miriam Pace was found under the rubble of her home on 2 March, 2020
Miriam Pace was found under the rubble of her home on 2 March, 2020

The Criminal Court has increased the punishment meted out last year to the two architects found guilty of causing the death of Miriam Pace.

Pace died in the rubble of her Santa Venera home, which collapsed in March 2020 as a result of construction works being carried out on a site next door to her residence.

Last year, architects Roderick Camilleri of Rabat and Anthony Mangion of Gżira had been found guilty of causing Pace’s death through negligence and of causing damage to neighbouring buildings.

Camilleri had additionally been convicted of making false declarations to the public authorities. The court of Magistrates had sentenced Camilleri to 480 hours of community service together with a €10,000 fine, and Mangion to 400 hours of community service and an €8,000 fine.

The Attorney General had subsequently filed an appeal to the sentence requesting, amongst other things, a custodial sentence.

In a decision delivered this morning, Mr. Justice Aaron Bugeja upheld that appeal and modified the punishment handed to Camilleri, revoking the €10,000 fine and imposing a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years instead. The 480-hour community service order was confirmed on appeal. 

The AG’s appeal was also upheld with regards to Anthony Mangion’s acquittal with regards to the charge of having been absent from a site where dangerous works were being carried out. The Criminal Court today found him guilty of that offence and increased his punishment by revoking the €8,000 fine that he had originally been ordered to pay and instead sentenced him to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Mangion’s 400-hour community service order was also confirmed by the judge.

Whether or not the architects will get to keep their warrants is still moot, however. Under the Periti Act, a conviction for any crime liable to imprisonment for over one year, other than involuntary homicide or crimes against the person which are excusable in terms of the Criminal Code, will cause perpetual disability to obtain or retain the warrant. 

Contacted for comments on the case, the president of the Kamra tal-Periti Andre Pizzuto, told the MaltaToday that it would be waiting for the judgment to be published in order to have a clearer picture of the legal implications. The chamber will be issuing a formal position after having read and analysed the text of the judgement, Pizzuto said. 

Lawyers Etienne Savona and Abigail Caruana Vella appeared for the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi represented the architects.

The Pace family's lawyer David Bonello was also present for the sitting.