Police find stash of drugs in man's hotel room

He failed to sign his bail book, and quick thinking by a police inspector resulted in the discovery of a stash of illegal drugs

Quick thinking by a police inspector who ordered officers, serving a warrant on a man who had failed to sign his bail book, to search his hotel room led to the discovery of a stash of illegal drugs, a court has heard today.

Inspector Christian Cauchi arraigned 48-year-old Denis Cremona before Magistrate Lara Lanfranco on Friday, accusing him of serious drug-related offences.

Cremona, who has no fixed address, was arrested on Thursday, 11 January, in connection with the discovery of several packets of cocaine and heroin inside a hotel room in St. Paul’s Bay. He was charged with possession of cocaine and heroin in circumstances which indicate that it was not intended exclusively for personal use.

He was also charged with committing an offence during the operative period of a suspended sentence he was handed for robbing a petrol station in 2019, as well as being accused of recidivism.

More recently, in October 2022, Cremona had been acquitted of supplying cocaine and heroin in a case dating back to 2009, after his self-incriminatory statement to the police was expunged from the acts because he had not been assisted by a lawyer during questioning.

Inspector Cauchi told the court that he had arraigned Cremona for similar charges and he had been on bail. The inspector learned that the defendant was not signing his bail book and neither had he appeared for a scheduled court sitting. Eventually a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Community Police in Qawra had noticed Cremona in his car in the locality and served him with the warrant. Officers had also searched him, finding five packets of suspected cocaine and one packet of suspected heroin on his person. Upon being informed of this, the inspector had ordered a search of Cremona’s hotel room. More suspicious packets were found there: eight packets of suspected heroin and 10 sachets of suspected cocaine were found behind the sofa in the room.

Cremona had told the police that one contained bicarbonate of soda.

A plea of not guilty was entered by the defence, who also requested bail.

Inspector Cauchi objected, pointing out that Cremona was a recidivist and there was a risk of him committing further offences while on bail.

Lawyer Franco Debono submitted that the amounts found on the person of his client were small and fell within the parameters of the Drug Dependance (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act. The legislator’s intention was to provide an opportunity to rehabilitate drug offenders, not imprison them, argued the lawyer. He suggested bail supervision, arguing that if he is not given bail in such a case, it would be “going against the spirit of that law”.

Neither had any civilian witnesses been mentioned by the police, pointed out the lawyer.

The Inspector said that the defendant was the subject of other ongoing proceedings, in which he had been granted bail. Debono vociferously objected to the mention.

The lawyer declared that the defendant would be residing at Marsascala should he be released on bail.

Asked by the court whether his client had a job, the defence replied that he had not been working of late “because he had an accident”.

The court was not swayed by these submissions, however. Bail was denied, the court citing the nature of the offences with which the man was charged and the early stage of the proceedings as grounds.