Teacher jailed for murder of tragic Maltese schoolgirl

A Maltese drama teacher accused of murdering a ‘bubbly, happy and intelligent’ schoolgirl who became his lover has been jailed for 20 years.

Erin Tanti, 28, admitted the murder of Lisa Marie Zahra, the daughter of hotel entrepreneur Tony Zahra.

Lisa Marie, 15, a pupil at St Michael School, died after falling from the highest point in Malta at Dingli Cliffs in 2014.

Prosecutors argued she had been pushed.

The judge Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera sentenced Tanti to 20 years and six months in prison, and ordered him to pay €22,000 in costs.

Tony Zahra, the father of the victim, had to be restrained by the police as the judge delivered her sentence, as he hurled abuse at Tanti.

The court in Valletta heard that on the night of the tragedy, Tanti and Lisa Marie had driven to Dingli and over the course of the night planned to kill themselves.

Tanti, from Sweiqi, was arrested after he was found lying at the bottom of Dingli Cliffs near the schoolgirl’s dead body.

An AFM rescuer told the court hat he had found it ‘hard to believe’ the drama teacher because his injuries, at first glance, were not compatible with a fall from such a height.

During a play a few days before the tragedy, Tanti had assumed the character name Cliff Dingli.

A string of character witnesses told the court that Tanti had often described himself as ‘a sociopath’.

An autopsy showed that Lisa’s cause of death was death by trauma. She had dislocated joints and head fractures.

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