Man denies drug charges after police find cannabis, cocaine in his car

Man from Santa Venera pleads not guilty to aggravated possession of cocaine and cannabis

A man from Santa Venera has pleaded not guilty to drug charges, after police alerted by the smell of cannabis found several sachets of both cannabis and cocaine in his car.

Frederick Frendo, 34, who lives on disability benefits as he is unable to work due to a congenital medical condition, appeared in the dock before Magistrate Giannella Busuttil, charged with aggravated possession of cocaine and cannabis.

Police Inspector Ryan Vella, prosecuting together with Inspector Gabria Gatt, told the court that Frendo was sitting in his car when he was approached by two police constables on patrol in St. Paul’s Bay at around 7pm yesterday, after the vehicle was parked on a double yellow line. 

While checking his driving licence, the officers noticed the smell of cannabis and searched the car to establish whether he was carrying more than the legally permitted amount.

Seven cannabis cigarettes were found, together with 3 small packets of cannabis with a total weight of 4.15g. They also discovered 10 sachets containing a total of 5.85g of what was suspected to be cocaine.

Frendo was arrested and taken to the Qawra police station for questioning.

Lawyer Franco Debono, who is defending the accused together with lawyer Nicholas Mifsud, asked the inspector whether the cannabis was also a reason for Frendo’s arrest.

“He was arrested because he was in possession of illicit substances. The cannabis was not present in circumstances that looked like they were for his personal use. Seven joints,” Inspector Vella said, clarifying that the arrest had been made on the grounds of reasonable suspicion and not on the strength of a warrant.

Frendo pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyers, pointing to the man’s clean criminal record, requested bail.

Debono argued that the man has a clean criminal record, who was found in possession of a minimal amount of drugs. “The police said that it was not for personal use, but the amounts are small enough not to exclude this possibility.” 

Frendo was disabled and subsisted on a disability pension, said the lawyer, adding that he had cooperated with the police. The prosecution did not object to bail as long as sufficiently strict conditions were imposed. 

In view of these submissions, the man was released from arrest pending these proceedings. He is bound by several conditions, which include a curfew, with his bail secured by a €1,000 deposit and a €4,000 personal guarantee.

A defence request for a ban on the publication of the accused's name was rejected, with the court pointing out that there were no legally valid reasons to uphold the request.