Career criminal jailed for seven and a half years for trafficking heroin

Pierre Cremona pleaded not guilty to trafficking over 1.5kg of heroin in 2009 and is currently facing separate proceedings on charges of money laundering, drug possession and illegal possession of weapons

A 42-year-old career criminal has been jailed for seven and a half years for heroin trafficking.

Pierre Cremona, whose Armier boathouse had been targeted in a bomb attack two years ago, was sentenced after being found guilty of trafficking half a kilogram of heroin and of being in possession of another half kilo of the drug.

Cremona is a well-known figure to the police, having pleaded not guilty to trafficking over 1.5kg of heroin in 2009 and is currently facing separate proceedings on charges of money laundering, drug possession and illegal possession of weapons. His name had also been mentioned in the case against the late Ray Pace - a judge who was accused of bribery and trading in influence - in one of the telephone conversations intercepted by the secret service.

The Balzan resident chose to file a guilty plea to avoid a trial by jury and with it, the possibility of a life sentence.

He admitted that he had agreed to buy the heroin from a Nigerian - known only as Isaac - in Pembroke on 22 July 2009. Cremona took delivery of the 56 capsules, containing a total of 522 grammes of heroin with a purity of 28%, after handing over the €8,000 asking price.

He said that he had expected to make a €3,000 profit on the subsequent sale of the drugs on that occasion, but his plans had been thwarted by Drugs Squad officers who stopped his vehicle in St. Paul's Bay, while he had been on his way back home from the purchase. 

For these charges and those of conspiracy to import drugs and heroin possession, the accused had faced the daunting prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, as well as having to pay a fine of between €2,329 and €116,500

However, defence lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Amadeus Cachia asked the court for a lighter sentence in return for Cremona's early admission.

Judge Antonio Mizzi noted that an early guilty plea did not automatically make the accused eligible for a less onerous sentence, citing UK jurisprudence on the matter which held that a reduction in sentence was not applicable in cases where the offender has been caught red-handed and a plea of guilty was practically certain.

But after seeing a joint note filed by the defence and prosecution advocating a lesser punishment, the court elected not to impose life imprisonment and instead sentenced the accused to imprisonment for seven and a half years, together with a fine of €20,000.

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