Court hears how heroin user's first hit nearly killed him

Man jailed for three years after he was found guilty of administering a near-fatal overdose to childhood friend

A man has been jailed for three years and fined €5,000 after a court was told how he had administered a near-fatal overdose to a first-time heroin user.

Magistrate Miriam Hayman heard several witnesses, including Clyde Bonavia - the user who nearly died - give their version of the events that led to Bonavia’s overdose.

Bonavia told the court how it was around Christmas when the accused, Louis Mallia, known as “il-Lalu” had approached him and asked whether he would be interested in joining him in taking some smack.

Bonavia had never taken heroin before and told him so, however Mallia suggested he try it, saying he could “stop if it is unpleasant.”

They bought three packets of heroin from Grezzju Camilleri, known as “iz-Zizz” in Valletta.

Such was Bonavia’s inexperience that Mallia had to administer the dose to him, he said. “The next thing I knew, I was in hospital, in the ITU,” Bonavia said.

The court heard Mallia, Bonavia’s childhood friend, recount how the two had gone to the Suret il-Bniedem foundation offices in Gzira to pick up a welfare cheque for LM22 before catching the bus to Mallia’s house in Valletta.

In the afternoon, the accused left to sign a bail book at Msida, leaving Bonavia at the flat. On his return home, Mallia and Camilleri found Bonavia asleep on a quilt placed on the floor. 

Mallia denied taking any drugs before leaving, adding that Bonavia had never taken the drugs in his presence, but added he had asked a neighbour to call the ambulance on his return, as he did not like the look of Bonavia, expressing reservations about Bonavia being in danger of dying, “as he was snoring”.

The court was not impressed by Mallia’s testimony however, with the magistrate saying that all the evidence points to the accused having procured the drugs. It believed Bonavia’s version of events saying that “so foreign was he to this substance and its habitual use that even when it was administered to him by Mallia, the effects were nearly lethal.”

 Magistrate Hayman found Mallia guilty on charges of heroin possession and supplying heroin to third parties and sentenced him to three years in jail and a €5,000 fine.

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