A young motorist found guilty of injuring a number of people when he crashed his mother’s Pajero while driving home from Paceville nine years ago will face fresh sentencing after his conviction was annulled because of a date error.

The case relates to a head-on crash that took place in Naxxar in the early hours of August 16, 2014 when Samuel Mamo, who had just turned 18, was driving the Mitsubishi Pajero at high speed.

The vehicle suddenly swerved into the opposite lane, crashing into a van that was being driven by a 23-year-old drummer who had been transporting equipment from a ─Žamrun Scouts camp. 

Another vehicle that was being driven behind the van was also involved in the collision. 

The van driver subsequently sued Mamo for damages.

In 2018, a civil court heard about the serious injuries suffered by the van driver who was in pain for many months, was unable to resume work as a stonework restorer and ultimately had to find another job. 

The victim, who suffered an 8% permanent debility, was awarded €34,000 in damages by the civil court. 

Meanwhile, the driver was also prosecuted for grievously injuring the van driver through his dangerous driving, slightly injuring two other people in the crash, damaging their vehicles, driving under influence, and without a licence and insurance cover. 

He was also charged with driving the Pajero without its owner’s consent. 

A Magistrates’ Court held that the last charge was time-barred and cleared Mamo of driving under influence and without a licence, while declaring him guilty of the other charges. 

He was fined €6,600, ordered to pay €2,254 in court expert expenses and banned from driving for 12 months. 

His lawyers appealed, arguing that the first court had wrongly assessed the evidence and also that the punishment ought to have been milder. 

The appeal was assigned to a new judge in January.

When delivering judgment, the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Mr Justice Neville Camilleri, pointed out that there was an error in the first judgment.

The date on the front and back page of the judgment was January 18, 2020, but the minute in the records stated that judgment was delivered on January 18, 2021. 

There was no minute dated January 18, 2020.

A sitting scheduled for October 2019 was adjourned to February 2020. 

Although the date was not one of the requisites expressly laid down in article 382 of the Criminal Code that were to be “scrupulously” observed on pain of nullity of judgment, there was a whole line of caselaw stating that the date was also an essential element. 

The date provided certainty as to when judgment was delivered and ensured the proper administration of justice by defining the time limit for an appeal. 

It was also the starting point for the consequences stemming from a conviction. 

Since those judgments considered the judgment date as a matter of public order, the court could point it out ex officio. 

Consequently, the court quashed the conviction, clarifying that it was not annulling the entire proceedings. 

The court sent the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for the accused to be placed in the position he had been in immediately prior to sentencing for judgment to be delivered again. 

Lawyers Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran were defence counsel. 

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