Hamrun man jailed, fined for bar drug bust

Accused admitted he had a heroin problem and would sell the drug to maintain his habit

A 50-year-old father of two was jailed for 14 months and fined €1000 after a court found him guilty of possession of heroin and cannabis in circumstances denoting it was not for his exclusive use, within 100m from a place frequented by young persons.

Gerald Cauchi had been arrested in January 2010 after a police surveillance operation was carried out on his Hamrun bar. Several hours into the operation, Drugs Squad officers had entered the bar and noted the accused discarding a plastic bag containing a brown substance, which was later found to contain heroin, under the counter.

A thorough search of the bar turned up three cameras, seven watches, two mobile phones, a bag of seeds, weighing scales and drug paraphernalia.

Cauchi had admitted to having a heroin problem but had denied that the objects recovered by the police were payments for drugs, saying they were securities for loans he had granted people for games of billiards.

He claimed that seeds discovered by the police were hemp seeds for his pet finches. He also denied selling drugs from his bar.

Police Inspector Johann Fenech had told Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras how Cauchi would sell drugs in the main square of Ħamrun in order to sustain his own drug habit. His defence counsel had argued that Cauchi was not a trafficker but a victim.

He later admitted that he had been selling packets of heroin at €10 each from the Hamrun square for several months, in order to maintain his habit, but he added that it had been months since he had last sold any drugs.

The court was not swayed by this, holding that if, by his own admission he would use up to 2 grams a day and 6 grams were found in his shop, divided in sachets if 0.34 grams each, it was evident that he also intended to sell the drugs in question.

Cauchi was handed a 14-month custodial prison sentence and fined €1000. The court granted him the faculty of paying the fine in monthly instalments of €50, warning him however, that should he fail to pay any one instalment, the balance would immediately become due and converted to one day of imprisonment for every €35 still outstanding.

He was also ordered to pay the costs of the case, which amounted to €1683.92.

More in Court & Police