Weak evidence foils prosecution in investigation on drug user’s death

Investigation into drug user’s death turns out fruitless as man is acquitted of drug trafficking charges

A 39-year-old man from Hamrun who was charged with trafficking heroin and cannabis near the G.F. Abela Junior College in 2004, has been acquitted of the charges after the court ruled that the testimony of the prosecution’s main witness was littered with shortcomings.

Brian Caruana, 39, of Hamrun, was also acquitted of trafficking heroin and cannabis resin, of being in possession of drugs not for his personal use, and of committing the crime within 100 metres from a place frequented by minors.

The case dates back to 9 February 2004, when during the investigation into a drug user’s death the accused's name was suggested by witness Duncan Sciberras, who claimed Caruana had been the man from whom he – as well as his deceased friend – had purchased heroin near White Arrow bar, in Msida.

However, Caruana – who admitted to be suffering from a drug problem – insisted that it was Sciberras who was the dealer, rather than the other way round.

In its ruling, Magistrate Marseann Farrugia argued that Sciberras’s testimony had been littered with discrepancies as he had changed his version of events on three occasions. The court heard how Scibberas had stated that the accused sold him three Lm5 packets of heroin every day, while in subsequent sittings, stated that the drugs cost Lm6 (€15) and that he only “bought drugs three times a week.”

Moreover, the court heard that the drugs that were found to be in Caruana’s possession were for his personal use, and consequently acquitted him of drug trafficking charges but fined him €1,500 for drug possession.

Assistant Commissioner Norbert Ciappara prosecuted while Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha were defence counsel.