Drunk driver who killed man at 100km/hr has jail term confirmed

05/22/2023

De Nederlander Tim Scholten (19), kwam om het leven toen de bestuurder met zijn auto de stoep op kwam.

A judge has confirmed a three-year effective jail term for a negligent driver who killed a pedestrian when he drove onto a pavement at 100km/h while drunk almost five years ago.

The incident happened in Gorg Borg Olivier Street, St Julian's just before 5am on July 6, 2018.

Mr Justice Neville Camilleri ruled on Monday that the court saw no reason why it should alter the original judgment handed down by the Magistrate's Court in June 2021 which jailed Michael Caruana Turner, 24, for three years and banned him from driving for another two years.

Caruana Turner had been found guilty of killing Dutchman Tim Scholten, 19, and injuring seven other people through reckless driving while drunk. Scholten succumbed to his injuries two days after the accident. 

The other injured people included a 25-year-old Englishman who was seriously injured, three Dutchmen and another Briton. All were aged between 19 and 25.

'I hate myself'

The court had heard how Turner, a fitness coach from Birkirkara, fled the scene and was running towards San Ġwann when he was stopped by the police.

A breathalyser test revealed that the driver was above the legal alcohol limit for motorists. Caruana Turner had written a statement expressing remorse: "I hate myself because he died because of me. I cannot forgive myself. I'm sorry for everyone involved," he said.

The first court had found that the accused was out drinking in Paceville before the incident. He had a beer and six shots of tequila.

According to evidence produced in court, Caruana Turner was driving at 100km/h, clipped the pavement on the left-hand side of the road, mounted the pavement, destroyed street furnishings and trees that were on the pavement and mowed down a number of pedestrians who were walking home. The car left brake marks of 12.09 metres.

Driver's appeal

Caruana Turner argued in his appeal that the court had not taken into consideration the findings of a social inquiry report, particularly the fact that he was no menace to society. He also complained that the court had ignored the recommendations of the prosecuting officer and that he had a clean criminal record. Furthermore, he said the court had failed to take into account that he had reimbursed the damages and had shown remorse for what had happened.

But Mr Justice Camilleri rubbished these claims, adding that the social inquiry report and his clean criminal record had indeed been considered by the first court.

He further noted that, with regard to the issue of the payment of the damages caused, this only played a limited role given the gravity of the ensuing death of the victim. "This court deems it appropriate to point out that no amount of damages will bring back Tim Scholten to life. That is the real tragedy of this case," the judge said in his judgment.

The judge noted the agreement between the defence and the prosecution for a two-year jail term suspended for four years. However, although the court is not bound by such agreements, he said the court found no reasons why it should disturb the punishment meted out, especially when it was within the parameters of the law.

The court had heard of the "scene of total devastation" which the police found upon reaching the incident site. Injured victims lay on both sides of the car and on the street where the vehicle had crashed headlong into a lamppost, sending its concrete base over the railing onto the seaward side.

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