Advert

Blood samples at centre of drink-driving involuntary homicide cast in doubt

'Accused could not have had so much alcohol in blood and be so lucid'

Blood samples taken from a young driver who stands accused of the involuntary homicide of his 22-year old friend in a drunk-driving accident three years ago in Nadur have been cast in doubt by the defence.

Terence TantiTerence Tanti

Terence Tanti, the 24-year old driver, was behind the wheel of his blue Peugeot 106 in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2015, driving a number of friends back from a private party in Nadur. Among these was Matthew Meilak, who lost his life when the car crashed into a wall and an electricity pole.

The driver was charged with the involuntary homicide, as well as with driving under the influence of alcohol, causing serious injury to another passenger, dangerous driving and damaging the electricity pole.

Read: Driver in New Year\'s Day traffic fatality was over the limit, court hears

Court-appointed expert Michael Refalo, tasked with taking samples of the driver’s blood, had reported that that Mr Tanti had tested well in excess of the legal limit of 80mg/dL blood alcohol, the test having been held four hours after the fatal crash. The accused denied he had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

During Friday’s sitting, forensic expert Mario Scerri was cross-examined about the custody of the said blood samples, which had reportedly been deposited at the hospital mortuary in a security bag a couple of days after they were taken.

However, when asked by defence lawyer Joe Giglio as to the exact date of the deposit and the person in whose hands they had been entrusted, Dr Scerri was unable to recall.

“They are kept in a strongroom at the mortuary. The technicians at the mortuary inform me when they arrive. I can’t say for certain when these samples arrived,” was his reply, adding that he could confirm that the samples had been handed in by Inspector Frank Tabone but could not remember when.

Matthew MeilakMatthew Meilak

“I didn’t get them from him personally, but he left them at the mortuary… the control I had was from when they arrived at mortuary till when I handed them to a UK- based expert,” Dr Scerri explained, pointing out that he had been unable to go to the mortuary on January 1 and had only been appointed by the court on the 14th.

It emerged that the samples had been received without full documentation of the chain of custody, thereby making it difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the tests were effectively carried out.

Asked to explain how such an ‘extremely drunk man’ could recall the incident in minute detail, Dr Scerri declared that he had not examined the accused at the time but had only seen him in court.

“If the results are 260mg/dl for alcohol and he is so lucid, then he did not have 260mg/dl in his blood,” the expert added.

The compilation of evidence is being presided over by magistrate Audrey Demicoli.

Inspector Frank Anthony Tabone is prosecuting. Lawyer Joe Giglio is defence lawyer.

";'); ?> -->

Blood samples taken from a young driver who stands accused of the involuntary homicide of his 22-year old friend in a drunk-driving accident three years ago in Nadur have been cast in doubt by the defence.

Terence Tanti, the 24-year old driver, was behind the wheel of his blue Peugeot 106 in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2015, driving a number of friends back from a private party in Nadur. Among these...";'); ?> -->

Blood samples taken from a young driver who stands accused of the involuntary homicide of his 22-year old friend in a drunk-driving accident three years ago in Nadur have been cast in doubt by the defence.

Terence TantiTerence Tanti

Terence Tanti, the 24-year old driver, was behind the wheel of his blue Peugeot 106 in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2015, driving a number of friends back from a private party in Nadur. Among these was Matthew Meilak, who lost his life when the car crashed into a wall and an electricity pole.

The driver was charged with the involuntary homicide, as well as with driving under the influence of alcohol, causing serious injury to another passenger, dangerous driving and damaging the electricity pole.

Read: Driver in New Year's Day traffic fatality was over the limit, court hears

Court-appointed expert Michael Refalo, tasked with taking samples of the driver’s blood, had reported that that Mr Tanti had tested well in excess of the legal limit of 80mg/dL blood alcohol, the test having been held four hours after the fatal crash. The accused denied he had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

During Friday’s sitting, forensic expert Mario Scerri was cross-examined about the custody of the said blood samples, which had reportedly been deposited at the hospital mortuary in a security bag a couple of days after they were taken.

However, when asked by defence lawyer Joe Giglio as to the exact date of the deposit and the person in whose hands they had been entrusted, Dr Scerri was unable to recall.

“They are kept in a strongroom at the mortuary. The technicians at the mortuary inform me when they arrive. I can’t say for certain when these samples arrived,” was his reply, adding that he could confirm that the samples had been handed in by Inspector Frank Tabone but could not remember when.

Matthew MeilakMatthew Meilak

“I didn’t get them from him personally, but he left them at the mortuary… the control I had was from when they arrived at mortuary till when I handed them to a UK- based expert,” Dr Scerri explained, pointing out that he had been unable to go to the mortuary on January 1 and had only been appointed by the court on the 14th.

It emerged that the samples had been received without full documentation of the chain of custody, thereby making it difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the tests were effectively carried out.

Asked to explain how such an ‘extremely drunk man’ could recall the incident in minute detail, Dr Scerri declared that he had not examined the accused at the time but had only seen him in court.

“If the results are 260mg/dl for alcohol and he is so lucid, then he did not have 260mg/dl in his blood,” the expert added.

The compilation of evidence is being presided over by magistrate Audrey Demicoli.

Inspector Frank Anthony Tabone is prosecuting. Lawyer Joe Giglio is defence lawyer.

Advert
Advert