Two men have been jailed for having caused the death of two women through negligence when a building in St Paul’s Bay collapsed during excavations on an adjoining plot.

Paul Demicoli, 52 of Birkirkara was jailed for three years and Kevin Bonnici, 33 of Birzebbuga was jailed for 18 months after Magistrate Consuelo Scerri-Herrera said that there had been negligence and inadequate risk assessment during excavation works on a plot at Triq Ramon Perellos in St Paul’s Bay on June 3, 2004. As a result, an adjoining building had collapsed, killing Nadezda Vavilova and Maria Dolores Zarb.

Another man, Paul Magro, 34, was found not guilty.

Magistrate Scerri-Herrera said that the Court wanted to signal that human life had value. She said that the Court had also noted previous convictions for separate crimes by the accused.

In a 200-page judgement, the Magistrate also made a series of suggestions to prevent a repetition of cases such as this.

She said that demolition and excavation work should be carried out only after clear and written instructions were issued by an architect. The work should be carried out by contractors and workers who were propertly trained and certified for the work, and use appropriate equipment.

A method statement should be approved by the authorities before works commenced, and no works should be carried out if defects were found on the site or adjoining property.

Contactors should be held liable if they went ahead with works without prior approval or after ignoring professional advice. Mepa should also be empowered to revoke or suspend permits when safety conditions were not observed.

In passing sentence, Magistrate Scerri Herrera noted that Mr Demicoli had previous convictions for theft, causing slight injuries, taking a false oath, dangerous driving and causing damage to a vehicle, and not informing the ETC on the employment of a worker.

Mr Bonnici also had a conviction related to driving without a licence.

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