Discovery of drugs in barman's jacket 'not enough' to secure conviction

Two sachets of cocaine were discovered lying on a staircase and a further nine sachets were found in a white jacket that was hanging off a chair in the bar together with 10 ecstasy pills.

A barman who was charged with cocaine possession after police found drugs in a jacket belonging to him, has walked free after a court ruled that the link between him and the drugs were not proved to the degree required by law.

Dylan Agius, 29, had been serving drinks at the Family Bar in Floriana when he was arrested in February of 2011, after a drugs raid.

Officers had found nothing illegal in either the patrons' or staff's possession, but two sachets of cocaine were discovered lying on a staircase and a further nine sachets were found in a white jacket that was hanging off a chair in the bar together with 10 ecstasy pills.

€600 in cash was found in the accused's car and several mobile phones were found in a subsequent raid at his place of residence.

Agius's defence lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili had consistently argued that the link between the accused and the jacket in which the drugs were found was far from certain. The cocaine was found on a spiral staircase leading to a basement toilet that was used by the public, pointed out his lawyers.

Although the accused had admitted to being the owner of the jacket in question, this alone was insufficient to persuade the court that he had been aware of the drugs placed in the pockets.

No other drug-related paraphernalia had been found in any of the police searches of the accused's home, vehicle or workplace. The mobile phones were not found to contain incriminating messages and fingerprints lifted off the drugs did not match the accused.

There was “absolutely nothing” in the evidence that linked them to the sale of drugs, said the court.

The court noted that the jacket had been found hanging off the back of a chair, around one of the tables in the establishment. Nobody had been sitting around the table at the time. The fact that the accused's jacket had been in a place accessible to the public introduced an element of “lurking doubt” that necessarily ran in the accused's favour.

In her judgement on the matter, Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras said that after taking all this into account, she could not be morally convinced that the drugs actually belonged to the accused, clearing him of all charges as a result.

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