A man who ran over and killed a pharmacist while driving his supercar at 140km/hr along the Gżira seafront has been let off with a suspended sentence and a two-year suspension of his driving licence.
Anthony Chircop has been sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for four years, after he was convicted of killing Stephanie Rapa, 30, on October 19, 2017 at around 7.45pm.
She was crossing the busy thoroughfare when she was hit by Chircop’s white GTR Nissan, one of the nine fastest cars in the world.
He was sentenced after having a change of heart and filing a guilty plea.
Astrid May Grima also fined Chircop €11,646, ordered his car to be confiscated and banned him from driving for two years, as well as ordering him to pay €3,800 in court expenses.
Earlier this year, a civil court awarded Rapa’s heirs €324,000 in compensation after ruling that his dangerous driving at high speed caused Rapa’s death.
The GTR Nissan can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds. It left tyre marks on the road measuring over 44 metres, prompting the first court that heard the case to observe: “A car like that is not meant to be driven on Maltese roads.”
They saw a lady thrown in the air between two palm trees
An appeal court, presided by Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti and Mr Justices Giannino Caruana Demajo and Anthony Ellul, then doubled the compensation awarded by the first court after ruling that Chircop was solely responsible for the incident.
The judges noted that shortly before it occurred, the defendant made use of a special feature in the car to increase speed, giving the victim “no chance”.
“This court has no doubt that dangerous driving was the reason why the accident took place. At a speed of 140 kilometres per hour, the defendant put himself in a position where he could not avoid the accident… the car was being driven like an arrow, so much so that the defendant didn’t even see the woman crossing despite the width of the straight, well-lit road,” the judges observed.
The impact was so violent that the car’s airbags were activated, the windscreen was shattered, and the vehicle suffered damage amounting to more than €8,000.
The dynamics of the incident were recorded from different angles by CCTV footage and were later also confirmed by eyewitnesses who recalled how they saw “a lady thrown in the air” between two palm trees on the central strip and then “hitting her head on the ground”.
The court noted that the footage was the best proof of how violent the impact was and the “frantic speed” at which the vehicle was being driven.
Police Inspector Jonathan Ransley prosecuted. Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri were the defendant's lawyers.