An internal inquiry report into the death of an elderly patient who choked on a piece of chicken served at Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital was presented to court today after having initially been thought to be lost.

The report was presented to presiding Magistrate Anthony Vella who had been irked by a declaration during the last sitting by former government chief medical officer, Natasha Azzopardi Muscat that the report could not be found.

The new hospital CGMO, Joseph Vella Baldacchino, informed her the file with the outcome of the inquiry was missing, she had said. But some time later, the hospital management had issued a statement saying the report was not missing but had been placed "in a safe place".

The report was removed from the safe place and deposited in court during the compilation of evidence against chief nurse Maria Bondin, 57, from Paola, nursing aide Carol Bonnici, 55, from Siġġiewi, and nurse David Sant, 30, from Għarghur.

They stand charged with the involuntary homicide of John Darmanin, who was found dead in a hospital lavatory on March 7, 2012, after he went missing from his room.

An autopsy report revealed that Mr Darmanin died after choking on a piece of chicken, despite hospital staff having been prohibited from giving him solid food. He was given CPR for almost 30 minutes before he was pronounced dead.

All three accused deny the charges.

In a previous sitting, a nurse testified that meals, which included chicken, were deemed safe for patients placed on a “soft food diet” but this and several other internal procedures related to the way food is distributed at the hospital had changed after Mr Darmanin’s death.

The contents of the report were not disclosed. The case continues.

Police inspector Geoffrey Azzopardi is prosecuting. Lawyers Lucio Sciriha, Steve Tonna Lowell and Kris Scicluna are appearing for the defence. Lawyer Stefano Filletti appeared parte civile for the Darmanin family.


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