‘Victim was so anxious that she made psychologist appointment’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Miriam Pace, a mother of two, who was killed inside her family home when it came crashing down as a result of construction work in an adjacent site, suffered from anxiety due to the ongoing construction works.

During the sitting on Thursday morning, Ivana Portelli, the daughter of the victim took the witness stand. Portelli told the court that her mother had gone to their family doctor due to the anxiety she experienced as a result of the ongoing construction works. Portelli said that her mother had scheduled an appointment with a psychologist for the end of March.

The compilation of evidence against four individuals who have been accused of Pace’s death through negligence and involuntarily damaging third-party property continues on Thursday morning.

The incident happened on March 2 in Triq Joseph Abela Scolaro in Ħamrun.

During the last sitting widower Carmel Pace testified in court, who told the court that the victim had expressed concern over the development a few times before the incident.

Police Inspectors Robert Vella and Matthew Galea are prosecuting.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela are appearing on behalf of the architects. Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are assisting the labourer. Lawyers Michael Sciriha, Roberto Montalto, Lucio Sciriha and Franco Galea are counsel to the contractor.

Lawyers Joe Giglio and David Bonello are appearing for the Pace family while Dr Stefano Filletti is assisting other neighbours.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud presided over the court.

09:54 Thank you for following us.
Monique Agius
09:53 Magistrate Mifsud says that while one would be worried about equipment and vehicles, this incident left a victim.
Monique Agius
09:52 Dr Montalto refers to the court application on the construction equipment which have been left on site and whether they could be removed to prevent further damage to the equipment and vehicles.
Monique Agius
09:49 The prosecution says that architect Graham Attard who is a member of CPD has already given a detailed account of what happened on the day of the accident and the work of the CPD on site. The report is part of the magisterial inquiry.
Monique Agius
09:47 The court says that at the next sitting two police officers and two neighbours will be summoned to testify.
Monique Agius
09:42 There are no more witnesses for today. The prosecution and the court are currently planning the next sessions and who would be testifying next.
Monique Agius
09:42 The Albanian construction worker will not be testifying today.
Monique Agius
09:39 The prosecution has summoned the Albanian construction worker. The defence counsel tells the court that the worker had already testified during the magisterial inquiry.

Dr Montalto said that since the witness had already testified and would be summoned only in case of a cross-examination. The request is being done on behalf of all the four accused.
Monique Agius
09:37 The officer is shown a report he had drawn up. He confirms the report.
Monique Agius
09:36 A police officer from the Hamrun district police takes the witness stand.
Monique Agius
09:35 Today marks the 4th month since Pace was killed buried underneath the rubble. Portelli has finished testifying.
Monique Agius
09:31 The first photo showed an excavator close to the dividing wall. Then they decided to hold a meeting on 24 February with the contractor about the issue of excavating 2ft and half away from the dividing wall. The architect had told the victim that if they kept the distance, tremors would be felt more, as well as that the law was an old one.
Monique Agius
09:30 Portelli says that her mother sent a photo and a video of the works. She explains that the neighbours and her mother spoke and went on site to speak to Malcolm Mallia.

"The house was shaking so much that even the other neighbour felt it," Portelli recalls of her conversation with her mother.
Monique Agius
09:28 Miriam Pace was anxious about the development adjacent. Her daughter tells the court that in January her mother went to the GP and was prescribed medicine for anxiety. She also had an appointment scheduled with the psychologist.

"The appointment with the psychologist was scheduled for the end of March. Obviously she did not manage to go," Portelli says.
Monique Agius
09:27 Portelli says that she was only present at the meeting mentioned. Other meetings held between the family and developers she was not present. However they would communicate via WhatsApp and Messenger and the witness was kept informed.
Monique Agius
09:26 Miriam Pace was concerned about the construction and the loss of view. Portelli says that her mother was very anxious once the permit was approved.
Monique Agius
09:24 The family took it as an opportunity to consider buying a new property. Portelli explains that her mother had reached out to the real estate agent who had informed the Pace family that the garden was going to be sold.

Eventually the Pace family held a meeting with the developer and the real estate agent to discuss the possibility of selling off the house to the developer. The issue was that the garage beneath their house did not belong to the Pace family.
Monique Agius
09:22 Dr Giglio questions the witness. Portelli tells the court that in May 2019 they were informed that the garden adjacent to her parents property was sold off. The witness says that her mother was concerned since the garden was big meaning that the project would also be big.
Monique Agius
09:21 Ivana Portelli takes the witness stand.
Monique Agius
09:18 The second application filed concerns the vehicle used by Dimech. Magistrate Mifsud says that the application is identical to one which was filed before the Criminal Court. Dr Montalto explains that he has three additional points to make in the court.
Monique Agius
09:16 Magistrate Joe Mifsud said that two applications. One was filed by Dr Montalto on behalf of his client Ludwig Dimech. The Magistrate says that the request is now with the Attorney General. If accepted, the defence has asked to appoint an expert and evaluate the site. Magistrate Joe Mifsud says that if upheld, the police will also be present on site.
Monique Agius
09:15 The four accused enter the courtroom.

Next sittings will be on the 9 July at 11am, followed by 29 July at 10am, and 9 September 9.30am and 10 September at 9am.
Monique Agius
09:13 The court explained that given the size of the courtroom, journalists, the family of the victim, lawyers and prosecution are going to be allowed in the courtroom. No one is going to be allowed to stand in the courtroom.
Monique Agius
08:59 Good morning and welcome to this live blog. Newsbook.com.mt is live from Hall 18.
Monique Agius