Man in driving-under-influence death charges had history of road rage

Accused in death of two Pakistani motorcycle riders had been convicted in 2003 of running over motorcyclist and then assaulting him

Karl Vella Petroni
Karl Vella Petroni

The man charged with causing the deaths of two Pakistani men on a motorcycle, after colliding with them in his car while allegedly under the influence of cocaine, alcohol and cannabis, had grievously injured another motorcyclist in 2003, whom he had also knocked over and then proceeded to kick while he was still on the ground.

Karl Vella Petroni was remanded in custody yesterday after being charged with negligently causing the deaths of Faizan Muhammed and Ali Abbas, while in an uninsured car, without a licence or insurance. He was also accused of having been driving in the wrong lane when the fatal collision occurred.

During his arraignment, it emerged that he had been convicted over “a similar offence.”

Although, in keeping with recent trends, the judgement in the criminal case against Vella Petroni is not available on the court’s online repository, the same incident would appear to have also been the subject of a civil case in which he was ordered to pay over €16,000 in compensation.

The injured motorcyclist, Glenn Bartolo, had testified in the civil case, telling the court how he had been riding his father Emanuel’s motorcycle in slow moving traffic in St. Paul’s Street, Naxxar on July 4 2003 when a car being driven by Vella Petroni had crossed into Bartolo’s lane, against the flow of traffic, apparently in a bid to enter a side street.

Vella Petroni’s vehicle had hit the motorcyclist from the right-hand side, knocking both bike and rider over.

While still on the ground, writhing in pain from broken bones and a dislocated shoulder, Bartolo yelled at the driver, telling him not to move the motorcycle, he told the court.

But the incident, as narrated in the judgement, did not end there.

Vella Petroni and a friend of his, Noel Agius, had approached the fallen rider and started to kick him, while telling him to shut up and that he wasn’t badly hurt.

This account was corroborated by the testimony of a police constable who was first on the scene, who testified to finding the motorcycle on its side and Bartolo a short distance away.

He recalled seeing Bartolo, sitting on his haunches, while two men had been hitting him on the head and telling him to “come on, get up.” The officer said he had pulled the men off the victim and told them they ought to be ashamed of what they were doing.

The motorcyclist had then been taken to hospital in an ambulance, spending the next five days recovering in the hospital after being operated on.

The constable clarified that Agius had not been travelling in Vella Petroni’s car, but had come out of a side street.

On the witness stand, Bartolo had confirmed an observation that he had made to the police at the scene - that he had seen Vella Petroni holding a mobile phone in his hand just before the collision. He added that Vella Petroni and Agius had also turned the motorcycle around to face the opposite direction.

Although the hotel where he had been employed as a chef had kept him on, it was only on a part-time basis, he said. 

Vella Petroni was ordered to pay Bartolo €9,178 by the First Hall of the Civil Court in 2009, with the amount being revised to €16,236.59 by the Court of Appeal in 2012.