Man charged after police crash Birżebbuġa drug deal

Some 330 grams of what police suspect to be heroin were found in the man’s possession, after receiving information a drug deal was going to take place

File photo
File photo

Police officers from the Drugs Squad have arraigned a man from Zurrieq in court this morning, after successfully foiling a drug deal on Tuesday.

Inspector Marshal Mallia told Magistrate Victor Axiak how the police had received information that a drug deal was going to take place on 8 March in Qajjenza, Birżebbuġa.

Officers had staked out the location and spotted Clayton McKay drive past in Triq San Lucjan. After observing McKay park his car and walk towards a nearby farmhouse, police officers moved in and arrested him and a number of other people inside the farmhouse.

Some 330 grams of what police suspect to be heroin were found in McKay’s possession, said the inspector, adding the investigations were ongoing.

McKay, 28, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated possession of heroin, breaching bail and recidivism. The court was told he was unemployed.

Lawyer Franco Debono, defence counsel together with lawyer Francesca Zarb, asked the inspector about the magisterial inquiry which followed the arrest. Several experts had been appointed to examine everything from the drugs themselves, to DNA, fingerprints and devices, the Inspector replied.

The defence requested bail, Debono stressing that the charges were of aggravated possession and not conspiracy to traffic or importation of illegal drugs. The evidence had been preserved in the inquiry immediately after the arrest and need not be exhibited again. “To the contrary the law prohibits you from doing so,” said the lawyer. “The law is saying that witnesses or experts who testified during the inquiry cannot be summoned in the compilation, bar special permission from court. Let us follow the general purposes of the law.”

Inspector Mallia, however, pointed out that the witnesses had only spoken to the police and not to the inquiring magistrate. This meant that they could testify in the compilation of evidence, he said.

After hearing the arguments by both sides regarding the issue of bail, the court ruled that in the circumstances it did not have the peace of mind that the accused would satisfy the requirements for bail, adding that there was a real concern that the accused would attempt to tamper with the evidence if McKay was released from arrest at this stage.

The magistrate also upheld the prosecution’s request for a freezing order over the man’s assets.