Friends and colleagues of a woman who was sentenced to five years imprisonment for having involuntarily killed a man and injured his sister in a traffic accident have launched a petition calling for changes to the law so that the courts may impose a fairer sentence.

The court's decision, on Friday, raised a storm of protest, with people on the social media making comparisons with far more lenient court decisions for similar cases.

But the court exercised the law as amended, and the punishment was actually at the lower end of the scale.  

The Criminal Code says that: “Where the offender has caused the death of more than one person or where in addition to causing the death of a person the offender has also caused bodily harm to another person or other persons the punishment shall be that of imprisonment of a term from five to ten years.”

Dorianne Camilleri, a 34-year-old teacher, was convicted of the involuntary homicide of Alfred Zahra, 64 of Msida, and of critically injuring his sister Carmela Zahra, 75, in the accident on the Rabat road in May 2011.

There were no witnesses other than Ms Camilleri (Carmela Zahra is still suffering a disability and does not recall the accident).

The court said it did not believe Ms Camilleri’s claim that she had been driving at 50km per hour and that the elderly people stepped onto the road from a centre strip, behind a van.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke said Ms Camilleri's account was inconsistent and she observed that the victims was thrown over the car, smashing the windscreen and ending up some distance way at the back.

Evidence showed that the two had crossed from the pavement, the court said.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke noted that the teacher was psychologically harmed by the accident and had no previous police record. While finding her guilty, the court took into consideration that the elderly couple could have used a nearby zebra crossing. It noted however, that they were well onto the road when the accident happened and the driver was not keeping a proper lookout.

Ms Camilleri's driving licence was suspended for five years after her release from prison.  

NEW WITNESS FOUND

Meanwhile, Inspector Sandro Camilleri, secretary of the Police Officers' Union, said a woman who had winessed the accident but remained silent when the trial was held, had now come forward, telling him she was prepared to give evidence in Ms Camilleri's defence when an appeal is heard. 

CONTROVERSY

In January last year a man who caused the death of two elderly people in a horrific traffic accident in December 2009 was let off with a suspended jail term and a €4,000 fine (picture below). The accident happened on December 12 at around 9.15 p.m. at the Erba Imwiezeb roundabout in St Paul's Bay.

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