Miriam Pace magisterial inquiry: Magistrate highlights clear negligence by project’s architects and developer

Magisterial inquiry into the death of Miriam Pace shows clear lack of adherence to regulation by site architects and developer

The house collapsed just before 2:30pm
The house collapsed just before 2:30pm

A magisterial inquiry into what led to the death of Miriam Pace last March, has highlighted the carelessness and negligence by the development’s architect and contractor.

On March 2, 54-year-old Miriam Pace died under the rubble of her home after her house collapsed due to excavations in a neighbouring building site in Triq Joseph Abela Scolaro, Hamurn.

Her body was found hours after the collapse by the Civil Protection Department.

Following the incident, a magisterial inquiry into the case, led by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit was launched.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister Robert Abela said the construction reform will look to strike a balance between the needs of developers and the rights of residents.

“We have to accept that we need to raise standards, and walk away from old practices,” he said.

MaltaToday has obtained a copy of the inquiry’s conclusions, which highlight the “clear negligence” by architect Roderick Camilleri.

In her report, the magistrate says that investigations show the clear negligence, lack of adherence to regulation and the lack of skill by the persons responsible of the project.

A method statement presented to the Building and Construction Agency lacked the necessary details which would help in identifying the true measures needed in order for the safety and integrity of adjacent sites to be protected.

The method statement also lacked the proper identification of the demolition and excavation techniques that would be used. The machinery used was also not outlined in the statement.

READ ALSO: Four charged with involuntary homicide of Miriam Pace

The inquiry also pointed out that the person sent by the architect to survey the site, Ishmael Sciberras, did not have the necessary qualifications to carry out the job, despite citing years of experience in his witness statement.

Sciberras failed to identify how the partition wall between the Pace household and the construction site was built, which would have led to identification of irregularities which would otherwise have been reported.

Legal notice 136/19 clearly outlines that the architect in charge of the excavation process approved by the development permit is to assume full responsibility of the project, the inquiry read.

Architect Anthony Mangion was totally absent in demolition and excavation process of the project, according to the magistrate.

“Had architect Mangion observed regulation and visited the site regularly, he would have noticed that the method statement was not being observed,” the inquiry read.

Developer Ludwig Dimech is also to blame for the incident, having not been vigilant enough during the excavation process to notice irregularities.

The magsitrate said that during interrogation, the developer had lied that on the day of the incident he was onsite for the majority of time that works were being carried out. An Albanian worker, Erbyos Hysa, told authorities that Dimech had only visited the site for a short time on the morning of the incident.

Worker Nicholas Spiteri’s negligence is also highlighted in his decision to use excavation machinery on the wall dividing the construction site and the Pace building.

Spiteri also did not have any training on the job he was carrying out, something which the magistrate said must be changed. It said construction workers must be considered as skilled workers and be regularised through legislation.

In its report, the inquiry also listed a number of factors which must be addressed by authorities.

The chamber of architects, in agreement with government, must issue guidelines for architects regarding the drawing up of correct method statements and condition reports.

The Building and Construction Authority must also carry out strong recruitment of technical persons who are able to properly assess presented documentation, rather than just “rubber stamping”.

The inquiry said there must be enough staff to carry out enforcement on ongoing developments.

The magsitrate ruled there is enough evidence to being criminal proceedings against Roderick Camilleri, Anthony Mangion, Ludwing Dimech, Nicholas Spiteri and Roderick Camilleri.

The inquiring magistrate also recommended to the Commissioner of Police to continue carrying out investigations on the directors of company MCZMC Developers Limited, who were tasked with the development.

READ ALSO: Woman killed in Sta Venera house collapse is Miriam Pace