Man guilty of dangerous driving and causing harm to another driver
A man who sped up on the wrong-side of a hill in Kalkara has been found guilty of driving dangerously and causing harm to an oncoming driver.
Two versions were given to the Court, one by the defence and one by the accused.
The incident occurred at 1 pm on 31 March, 2013 in Marina Road, Kalkara. Those involved in the accident were Jesmond Fenech, the victim, and Raphael Aquilina, the accused. As a result of the incident, Mr Fenech suffered a permanent weakness in his right hand, after glass from the driver’s side window broke as a result of the impact. The mirror was also damaged.
Mr Fenech said that he was going down the hill when he saw a car, driven by the accused, coming towards him at speed on the wrong side of the road. He claimed that he pulled inwards as much as possible and nearly came to a halt, flashing his lights and tooting his horn to attract the accused’s attention. He testified that the accused still ended up hitting his front-right door, and kept going.
Mr Fenech said that he had to be operated on as a result of the incident. He said he later found the accused double parked in front of his residence, confronted him and asked him why he had driven off. He also asked him to accompany him to the police station. Mr Fenech said that when he went to the station to file a report, he was told that he was bleeding from his hand, and he then proceeded to the health centre. His version was corroborated by his wife, Josette Fenech.
The accused, however, gave a different version of events. He claimed he was driving up the Bighi hill, and when he arrived in front of Villa Portelli, he saw Mr Fenech’s vehicle coming from the opposite direction. He added that while he did hear a loud noise, he did not realise that there had been an impact and saw the other vehicle continue down the road, and thus he also continued on. He also claimed that when he arrived home, another car pulled up, and Mr Fenech came out of the car and punched him in the face, an accusation which Mr Fenech denied.
While testifying later in the case however, the accused said that when he saw Mr Fenech driving down the hill, he pulled to the right. After a while corrected his statement, saying he pulled to the left. He testified in court that the two vehicles bumped mirror to mirror, and that Mr Fenech kept on going and did not stop. He held that he was driving slowly, and that Mr Fenech was the one driving at speed.
The Court noted that no sketch indicating the position of the vehicles was made, because the accused left the scene of the incident, and the victim had to follow him in order to get the details needed to file a report. As such, the Court had to rely on the versions of the two drivers regarding the dynamics of the incident.
Magistrate Audrey Demicoli noted that there were two conflicting versions of the events. The Court chose to believe the victim’s version of events, as his version of events was more probable, was corroborated by his wife, and the vehicle damage was more compatible with his version. There was also nothing from his behaviour or in his testimony which would lead the courts to doubt his credibility.
The Court noted, however, that unlike Mr Fenech, the accused’s testimony was not consistent. At first, the court said, the accused said he heard a noise and did not realise that the two vehicles had crashed, later he said he noticed that the two vehicles had crashed mirror-to-mirror but kept on going as he saw the other vehicle not coming to a halt.
The court also noted that the accused said he had pulled right and then corrected himself saying he pulled left after insistence from his lawyer. The court also noted that no reason was given as to why he had to pull left or right.
The court found that the injuries to Mr Fenech’s hand could not have been as a result of punching the accused.
The accused was found guilty, was disqualified from holding a licence for three months and fined €2,000.