Prosecution's error sees drunk driver who caused woman’s death let off with fine

The man was charged with causing the death of the woman in October 2015 when she had in fact succumbed to her injuries two years later

The man was found guilty of driving drunk but not of causing the woman's death
The man was found guilty of driving drunk but not of causing the woman's death

A drunk driver who was found guilty of reckless and drunk driving which had resulted in the death of a woman has avoided jail time due to an error when the charges against him were filed.

Emerson Vella was charged with of inflicting grievous injuries on Catherine Fenech, damaging a vehicle he crashed into, causing Fenech’s death, reckless driving, driving drunk and driving with blood alcohol levels over the legal limit.

David Grima, a medical doctor, testified that Fenech was in danger of dying as a result of the injuries she had sustained in the incident. He said that she had died two years later due to the injuries she had sustained.

However, given that the charges against Vella stated that he had caused her death on the 9 October 2015, and seeing as Fenech had eventually passed away two years later, the court said it could not find the man guilty.

“He can’t be found guilty of the first charge because the prosecution tied itself to the date of 9 March 2015 as the day the death occurred, when in fact it was 1 April 2017,” said the court.

Vella was found guilty of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The case dates back to March 2015 when Fenech was out in the rain at 1:30am, assisting her son on Triq Dun Karm in Msida because his car couldn’t start.

Vella was driving up the road with excessive speed and lost control of the vehicle on account of the wet road. He crashed into a parked car which in turn lurched forward and hit Fenech.

She eventually died in April 2017 due to the injuries she had sustained that night.

Police had said that a breathalyser test Vella had consented to resulted positive and that he had clearly been drunk on the night of the incident.

Witnesses had testified that he had also been driving with excessive speed in a residential area.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud described the case as unfortunate and sentenced the accused to pay a fine of €3,000. His license was also rescinded for one year.

Inspector Bernardette Vella prosecuted. 

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel. 

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