Teen driver accused of killing Sunderland gran

Court arraignment of Mel Spiteri for hit and run
Court arraignment of Mel Spiteri for hit and run
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THIS is the teenager accused of driving the car which killed a Wearside pensioner in Malta.

Elizabeth Whilems, from Red House, was knocked over while on holiday with her husband Maurice in the popular resort of Qawra.

Mel Spiteri is accused of involuntary homicide of the 77-year-old, driving dangerously, failing to slow down near a zebra crossing, and not having a licence or insurance.

The 18-year-old pleasure craft operator is also charged with failing to stop after the accident.

It is understood that Mrs Whilems’ body has been flown back to Britain.

In court during the arraignment, it was claimed that Spiteri had been urged by a pal to dump the Mitsubishi FTO car and claim it had been stolen.

Taking the witness stand in the Maltese court, his friend Elisa Panzavecchia said that on June 26, she went with him to a bar and restaurant when they received a call to go and meet a friend.

The 16-year-old said it was the first time she got into the car driven by Spiteri, since it belonged to his father Victor who sometimes dropped her off home when she used to go out with the defendant.

Miss Panzavecchia said she could remember two groups of people cross the road.

When the first group were crossing the road, they were some 15 to 20 metres away.

The teenager said she then saw what she thought was a second group crossing and stopping in the middle.

As they got closer, a woman stopped a little over half way and the car hit her.

Miss Panzavecchia said the windscreen shattered on the driver’s side and she and Spiteri did not speak.

They then drove to his garage where they parked the car, still in shock.

She said she called a friend because she had forgotten her handbag at the bar they had been before the accident, and a friend of the accused, 20-year-old Ryan Micallef, went to the garage with her handbag.

Miss Panzavecchia said she heard him tell Spiteri that he should try and dump the car somewhere and tell his father that it was stolen.

Taking the stand himself, Mr Micallef admitted he had told the accused to dump the car because the accused had been afraid of telling his father what had happened.

The abandoned car was found near Vibes.

However, it is alleged that shortly after leaving it there they realised that Spiteri, of Birkirkara, had left his mobile phone inside so they went back for it.

At that point Mr Micallef, looking visibly shaken, told the court that he was feeling ill.

He was sat down and an ambulance was called. The hearing was the postponed.

Proceeding.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho