Man jailed for 2005 drug bust cleared of delivering fatal dose to friend

Career criminal jailed for 11 months, fined after being found guilty of trafficking heroin to friend who died of overdose.

A drug addict was this morning jailed for 11 months after being found guilty of trafficking heroin but was cleared of delivering a fatal dose of heroin to his friend back in 2005.

Mario Buhagiar, 46, of Valletta, was found guilty of trafficking and of being in possession of heroin, and of breaching a court order in January 2005.

The court heard that on January 13, 2005, police found the body of 36-year-old Joseph Raymond Christie in his Msida home who had died due to a heroin overdose.

After analysing the victim’s mobile phone, police discovered that the night before, he had been in contact with ‘Il-Hassu’, the accused.

A subsequent search at the accused’s home yielded several heroin sachets and other drug paraphernila. Moreover, court experts confirmed that the drugs found at the Buhagiar’s home matched those found at the victim’s home.

During police interrogation, the accused admitted to being in possession of heroin, but insisted that it was for his personal use. Moreover, he told police that a few days before Christie’s death, he had supplied a sachet of heroin to the victim.

However, the court ruled that in spite of the accused’s admission of supplying drugs to the victim, there was no concrete evidence that he had in fact delivered the fatal dose of heroin.

Consequently, Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was responsible for his friend’s death, and thus cleared him of causing his friend’s death.

Nevertheless, the court said that during his interrogation, the accused admitted to being in possession of and to trafficking heroin. In her judgement, the court noted that the accused has been leading a life of crime and has been jailed for six times already and given conditional discharges on four separate occasions for crimes ranging from aggravated theft to simple possession of heroin.

Consequently, taking the accused’s criminal record into account, the court jailed Buhagiar for 11 months and fined him €1,250.

Assistant police commissioner Norbert Ciappara prosecuted.