Taxi driver charged with involuntary homicide of 19-year-old woman

Taxi driver Luciano Tabone has pleaded not guilty to involuntarily causing the death of Loredana Nemes and separate charges of dangerous and reckless driving, speeding and relapsing

The taxi ran over the woman at around 4:30 am this morning. Photo: TVM
The taxi ran over the woman at around 4:30 am this morning. Photo: TVM

A taxi driver whose vehicle was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the early hours of Wednesday morning has been charged with involuntary homicide.

Loredana Nemes was killed inside the Regional Road tunnels in St. Julian’s after she was hit by a taxi driven by Luciano Tabone, 59.

Tabone, of Balzan, pleaded not guilty to involuntarily causing the woman's death, dangerous and reckless driving, speeding and relapsing.

Magistrate Anthony Vella heard Nemes's boyfriend, Luciano Agostini, explain what happened during the incident.

He, together with his brother, a friend and his girlfriend had gone out to eat at St. Julian’s at around 10.30pm, he said. After the meal they had gone to a cocktail bar to share a cocktail.

They hadn't consumed any alcohol at home or at the restaurant, he said in cross-examination and had been at the cocktail bar for around an hour.

“Because I had to go to work the next day, my girlfriend and I left early to go home to San Gwann. It was at around 1.30 - 2am,” he said.

They had walked home.

“At home, we had an argument and I had packed my suitcase and started walking towards Paceville to my brother's place.” His brother had been on holiday, staying at a B&B in the entertainment district.

“It was a stupid argument. An argument between a couple.”

He explained how he had walked to the tunnel where the incident took place, carrying his luggage, walking on the left hand pavement.

Traffic was approaching from behind him, he said. “Loredana was behind me.”

They weren't speaking, he said, choking back sobs. “I only realised something had happened when I heard the thud.”

Nemes was in the middle of crossing the road, said the witness. He hadn't seen her before she crossed the road.

“Then I saw her somersault in the air...” he said, trailing into sobs. The Magistrate offered to allow the witness time to calm down but he insisted on going on. The girl was thrown forward around 20m he said. “I started screaming.”

He didn't remember hearing any braking, he said. The grief-stricken youth told the court that he could not remember the driver's face, but then pointed him out in the courtroom. Agostini hadn't spoken to him at the scene, he said, his priority having been to attend to his girlfriend.

The tunnel was lit at the time, he confirmed. “She was wearing a floral print dress,” he said.

Agostini's brother, Raffaele, also testified.

He had arrived in Malta just two days before, he said. That night he had met his brother Luciano at the restaurant where he worked. He confirmed that they hadn't consumed any alcohol at the restaurant.

“Loredana took an ice cream and my brother took a coffee.” After the restaurant, they had gone to Bellini for a cocktail. “We took a cocktail. It was blue. A jar, divided between the four of us. It came to around a glass each.”

The couple had appeared content, said the brother. Loredana was particularly happy because the witness had brought with him a suitcase of clothes sent by her mother, he added.

He had last seen the couple as they had left, around 2.30 am.

Tabone did not speak during the arraignment. Defence counsel Legal Procurator Peter Paul Zammit requested bail, which was not objected to by the prosecution.

Noting the offence was of an involuntary nature, the court granted the accused bail against a deposit of €1,000 and a personal guarantee of €4,000.

Inspector Nikolai Sant is prosecuting. Lawyer Roberto Montalto appeared parte civile for the victim's family.

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