Two architects found guilty of involuntary homicide over the Ħamrun house collapse that killed Miriam Pace, have had their punishment increased on appeal by getting a suspended sentence instead of a fine, along with the 880 hours of community work imposed by the first court.
Roderick Camilleri, 38 and Anthony Mangion, 74, had been also found guilty of involuntary damage to third-party property but were spared a jail sentence by the Magistrates’ Court view of their clean criminal record.
Camilleri was condemned to 480 hours of community work “to give something back to society” and a fine of €10,000.
Mangion, as site technical officer, was ordered to perform 400 hours of community work and fined €8,000.
The 54-year-old, who had two children, was buried under the rubble of her home when construction works at a site next door, brought down the family home.
Camilleri and Mangion, together with excavation contractor Ludwig Dimech and construction worker Nicholas Spiteri, subsequently pleaded not guilty to involuntary murder.
All four accused were involved in the large-scale construction project on Triq Joseph Abela Scolaro which triggered the fatal collapse on March 2, 2020.
The victim’s husband, Carmel, testified in the proceedings before the Magistrates’ Court.
“[Miriam] was highly anxious and afraid. She was resigned to living with it until the works were completed,” he explained, recalling his wife’s constant texts about the works next door and her heightened anxiety as the building project took off.
When tragedy struck, the collapse was witnessed by one of Pace’s neighbours who later also testified in court.
That day the witness had been chatting via Facebook Messenger to her daughter, who was abroad at the time when suddenly she felt a violent tremor.
Looking out through her bedroom window, she saw her neighbour’s property fall “like a waterfall” as a second tremor left her rooted to the spot.
Both architects, as well as the Attorney General, had filed an appeal against the sentence handed to Camilleri and Mangion.
On Thursday morning, the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja, upheld the AG’s appeal, and varied the punishment by revoking the fines and imposing a suspended jail term instead.
Camilleri was condemned to a two-year jail term suspended for two years, whilst Mangion, was condemned to a 15-month jail term suspended two years after being found guilty of having been away from the site where the construction works were taking place, a charge over which he had been acquitted by the first court.
The hours of community work in respect of both architects remained unvaried.
Meanwhile, last year, while proceedings were still ongoing before the Magistrates’ Court, the other two accused had informed the court that they were formally objecting to having their case dealt with summarily before the Magistrates’ Courts.
This meant that they were opting instead to proceed to trial before the Criminal Court.
Now that proceedings against the two architects have run their full course, a bill of indictment may be issued against the other two accused.
AG lawyers Anthony Vella, Abigail Caruana Vella and Etienne Savona handled the appeal. Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi assisted the architects. Lawyers Joe Giglio and David Bonello represented the victim’s family.
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