Young man granted bail after allegedly being caught with 48g of cannabis

The accused was arrested after a passing police patrol noticed the smell of cannabis smoke wafting through the air from a nearby group of young people

A man who was arrested after smoking cannabis in a national park on Halloween night has denied charges relating to aggravated possession of the drug.

24-year-old Christopher Frendo from St. Paul’s Bay was taken into custody at Salini Park at around 9:30 pm on October 31, after a passing police patrol noticed the smell of cannabis smoke wafting through the air from a nearby group of young people.

Frendo was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Victor Axiak on Thursday, charged with possession of cannabis in circumstances that denoted that it was not for personal use and committing that offence within a 100-metre radius of a place where youths normally gather.

Police Inspector Ryan Vella, who is prosecuting together with Inspector Francesco Mizzi,  told the court that the defendant had readily told the police that he had been smoking the drug. A search revealed that he had 48g of cannabis, divided into 14 sachets in his possession at the time.

Defence lawyer Charmaine Cherrett entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of her client and requested bail.

The prosecution objected to the young man’s release from arrest, arguing that the amount of drugs he had been carrying was far in excess of that associated with personal use, also stressing the proximity factor.

Cherrett submitted that the amount of drugs found was only around 20g over the legal limit and that Frendo was both a first-time offender and an addict. Furthermore, the defendant had stable employment and lived with his mother, added the lawyer.

The court asked the police whether they saw any risk of the defendant tampering with evidence if granted bail, to which the Inspectors replied that there wasn’t. “The only ground on which we are objecting is the gravity of the charges, ” Inspector Vella said.

The Court granted the man bail, warning him that breaching his bail conditions could land him in prison.

Frendo was ordered to sign a bail book twice a week, observe a curfew and deposit his travel documents in court.

Bail was secured by a deposit of €5,000 and a €15,000 personal guarantee. The Court stressed that he was not to approach anyone who had been with him on the night of his arrest.

Inspectors Ryan Vella and Francesco Mizzi prosecuted.