Missing number plate leads to crack, heroin charges for driver

Driver stopped by police arrested after 32 sachets of heroin and 46 sachets of suspected crack cocaine were found in the vehicle

Cocaine (File photo)
Cocaine (File photo)

A vehicle stopped by police over a missing number plate resulted in the driver being arraigned on drug charges.

Inspectors Jonathan Pace and Warren Galea charged 19-year-old Lee Formosa from Marsa with unauthorised possession of dangerous drugs and possession of cocaine and heroin in circumstances denoting that they were not exclusively for his personal use.

Formosa was also accused of driving a car without a driving licence, insurance cover or even licence plates. Further charges were pressed, relating to recidivism and the alleged breach of bail conditions which he had been handed on Christmas Eve last year.

The youth, who told the court that he was unemployed, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bail was requested by his team of defence lawyers, Franco Debono, Lennox Vella and Francesca Zarb.

Inspector Pace objected to the request. He testified to how police officers had pulled a car over after noticing that it was missing a licence plate. As the car stopped, officers noticed “peculiar movements” inside the vehicle, suggesting that the driver was passing something over to the passenger. Formosa had been behind the wheel of the car, explained the inspector.

One of the police officers told his colleagues that there appeared to be drugs inside the car. As he was getting out of the car, Formosa, who was described in court as “known to the police drugs squad,” told the officers that the drugs were not his.

Formosa was arrested after 32 sachets of heroin and 46 sachets of suspected crack cocaine were found in the vehicle, with a total weight of 18 grams of heroin and 17 grams of cocaine.

The car’s two occupants had been granted police bail until the ownership of the drugs could be established, said the inspector, telling the court that although the amounts of drugs found were small, the defendant did not work, which was indicative that he had an illegal form of income.

Answering defence lawyer Franco Debono, the inspector confirmed that the defendant had obeyed the conditions of his police bail.

Debono argued that this case would end up before a drug court, which emphasises treatment not punishment and stressed that the defendant had obeyed the conditions of police bail. “How can you ask the court to throw him in prison now? Had he given you a hard time tracing him while on police bail, it would be one thing, but that did not happen.”

The court rejected the bail request in a decree issued later in the afternoon.