Driver cleared of killing pedestrian who crossed the road without keeping proper look out
The Court of Appeal revoked a one year prison sentence suspended for three years against Jonathan Hili, who last December was found guilty of running over and killing Andrea Debattista in Triq il-Marfa, Mellieħa. At the time, the victim’s 11-year-old daughter was walking with him on the street.
On July 9, 2016 the accused was driving to Gozo and hit the victim en route to the hill that leads to Marfa. The victim was walking outside the white line beneath a big tree. According to a court expert, the accused was driving at a speed of between 57 and 65 kilometers per hour which according to him was suitable for the conditions and design of the road.
The accused said that as soon as he saw Debattista, he turned the steering wheel as far as he could towards the outer carriageway. However he hit the victim, who ended up smashing the windscreen, flying over the roof and ended up on the ground.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal presided over by Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera said the accused was not driving fast but noted that there were many trees outside the white line and that traffic lights in the area were not yet working.
The Court of Appeal concluded that this was not a case of the accused driving excessively but one where the victim had suddenly decided to cross the road, despite the fact that there was zebra crossing further up.
It transpired that the victim who was giving his back to the driver did not stop and looked back to see if cars were coming before stepping out and this despite the fact that his daughter was with him.
In fact, the Court of Appeal noted that the accused had done his best to prevent the accident and that if he had continued on his way, and did not pull toward the right, he would have also ended up hitting the girl who was with her father.
For these reasons, the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the first court acquitted the accused of all charges and punishment.
The court ordered that a copy of the sentence be sent to the Minister of Transport to make sure to keep this road in good condition to for grass and trees to be pruned from time to time, when these protrude onto the carriageway and this with the aim of avoiding other fatal accidents.
Dr.Jason Azzopardi, Dr. Julian Farrugia and Dr. Franco Debono appeared for the accused.