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Man jailed 10 months for accident which left gymnast in a wheelchair

A company director was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment today after a criminal court found him guilty of having been responsible for an accident in Qawra in September 2008 which left a young Ukrainian woman paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. 

Maurice Attard, 52, from Mosta, director of Sonlit Ltd, had been in charge of the company when it was sub-contracted to install heavy lighting equipment for a disco that was to be held in the parking area opposite Ta' Fra Ben restaurant in Qawra.

On the evening of September 14, 2008, as the party was in full swing, strong winds shook the structure set up to light the main stage. Suddenly the entire structure collapsed onto a 120 strong crowd standing in front of the stage, with eight persons being injured.

Among the casualties was Vlada Kravchenko, then 17, who suffered injuries to her head and spine, which left her paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.

In delivering judgment the court, presided by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, remarked that health and safety measures are of the utmost importance particularly when events such as this are involved. Precautions should always be taken to ensure that the safety of individuals is catered for, the court continued. This applied not only at the workplace but even at entertainment venues.

It is truly shameful that a person's life is changed overnight just because she happened to be in a particular place at a particular time.
- Court

"It is truly shameful that a person's life is changed overnight just because she happened to be in a particular place at a particular time", the court observed. 

As the judgment was read out, the victim, now 25 years of age, was present in the courtroom, seated on her wheelchair and visibly moved by the event unfolding before her.

Inspector Frank Tabone prosecuted.

Lawyers Giannella DeMarco and Gianluca Caruana Curran, appearing for the accused, gave notice of appeal. Lawyer Franco Vassallo represented the victim. 

More on Vlada's battle at:

One small step for man... One giant leap for Vlada

Woman who injured spinal cord in 2008 accident says 'no lessons learnt'

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