Driving ban over 2010 crash that claimed young mother's life is extended on appeal

Matthew Barbara had swerved into oncoming traffic at 105km/hr in Naxxar, colliding with a car driven by Rosianna Azzopardi with her 11 month old daughter on board. 

The Court of Appeal has extended a driving ban handed down earlier this year to a driver who caused a fatal accident in 2010
The Court of Appeal has extended a driving ban handed down earlier this year to a driver who caused a fatal accident in 2010

An appeals court has extended the length of a driving ban handed to a motorist who caused the death of a young mother in a high-speed head on crash in 2010.

25-year-old Matthew Barbara was 18 and had just obtained his driving licence when he was involved in a fatal head-on collision with a car driven by Rosianna Azzopardi, on 9 July 2010.

The collision occurred at around 4:50am when the accused was navigating a bend along John Houel Street, Naxxar in his Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 at a speed approaching 105km/hour. A court expert had reported that while the roads were damp with condensation, the weather was clear and visibility was good.

Azzopardi had died on impact but her 11-month-old daughter, who was strapped in a child car seat, was unharmed in the accident.

In March this year, Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona had found Barbara guilty of involuntary homicide and of having damaged third party property owing to his dangerous and reckless driving.

Barbara had been ordered to pay an €80 fine and complete 350 hours community work. His driving licence was revoked for three months and his car was confiscated by the court.

The Attorney General had filed an appeal against the brevity of the driving ban, which was of the shortest possible length at law, arguing that it did not reflect the gravity of the case at hand. This was not a case of light inattention, argued the public prosecutor, but of recklessly showing off.

The Court of Appeal, presided by judge Edwina Grima observed that Barbara's actions had not only resulted in the loss of a life, but had caused her family to endure the unnecessary hardship of having to raise a child without its mother.

The victim's family had expressed its wish that the incident not cause Barbara's future to be ruined by a prison sentence, but that he be taught a lesson about road safety by being kept off the road. Judge Grima also noted that the accused had obediently not driven a vehicle since and had agreed with the AG's arguments.

Confirming the other punishments, the court extended Barbara's driving ban from 3 months to 3 years, saying this was to ensure he is not a danger to road users “until he is mature enough to see to it that his driving is prudent and in line with the rules of behaviour expected of every driver.”

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