Policeman involved in fatal accident blames visibility, says victim was not wearing a helmet

Police constable Jean Claude Mangion, accused of the involuntary homicide of biker Clive Brincat, tells court victim had been driving with his headlight off and without a helmet

Clive Brincat was 32 years old when he died as a result of injuries he sustained in the collision
Clive Brincat was 32 years old when he died as a result of injuries he sustained in the collision

A policeman who is accused of the involuntary homicide of a motorcyclist in a head-on collision in 2014 has denied being at fault for the accident, and alleged that the victim had been driving in poor light conditions and bad visibility with his lights off, without a helmet on.

22-year-old constable Jean Claude Mangion, took the witness stand this morning as magistrate Doreen Clarke continued to hear compilation proceedings over the accidental death in January 2014 of Clive Brincat. 

Brincat, a resident of Floriana, was 32 years old when he died as a result of injuries he sustained in the collision, which occurred at Triq il-Konvoj ta' Santa Marija in Imqabba on 10 January 2014.

Mangion was cross-examined by Robert Abela, his defence lawyer, in the presence of family members from both parties involved in the tragic accident.

He had been due to start work at 5:00am on the day of the crash, Mangion said. After waiting for the windscreen to defog for a couple of minutes, he had set off in the direction of Cospicua to report for duty.

The road was poorly lit and its surface had been covered with dew and the visibility was low,  he recalled, adding that there had been no traffic.

He recalled stopping his car after hearing a strange noise. Upon stepping out of the vehicle to investigate, he had then seen a motorcycle and its rider on the ground.

Mangion claimed not to have seen the bike coming out of the secondary road, adding that it did not appear to have had its lights on. The driver had not been wearing a helmet, he added.

The accused said he had tried to speak to the victim but the prostrate figure had not replied. Mangion had flagged down a passing car and asked the driver to call the emergency services.

When he had spoken to the emergency operator, Mangion said he had asked what he could do to help the casualty, but had been told to do nothing as he had no medical training.

Another car stopped shortly afterwards, he said. The car's passenger had got out and after checking the victim, told him that the man was probably dead. Another motorist stopped soon after and told him the same thing.

He said he had been gripped by panic when that motorist identified herself as journalist Julia Farrugia, such that he had needed to lean against a wall.

Mangion, however, said there was no truth in Farrugia's claim to have heard him tell someone over the phone that he “couldn't do anything because a journalist is here.”

Mangion had been taken to hospital suffering from shock and recalled bursting into tears when a doctor tried to reassure him. Medical tests had shown that he had not been under the influence of alcohol at the time, he said.

In the three years that passed since the accident, the accused said he was reminded about it every day, as he passed through the same road on his way to work.

He insisted that he could not have done things better, and said that he would carry the guilt he felt over the events of that January morning with him to his grave.

Under cross-examination by lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha, who are representing the Brincat family in the proceedings, Mangion denied being in a hurry to get to work. He had never seen any of his colleagues be reported for arriving slightly late. Such issued would be sorted out internally, he said.