Cocaine dealer jailed for 30 months over nightclub bust

The man claimed that a number of small bags found at his house were used to carry lead shot for his homemade shotgun cartridges, while €500 cash found in his car was meant to pay for the repair of his sister’s car

A man has been jailed for possession and trafficking of cocaine in a Paceville nightclub.

Magistrate Neville Camilleri heard Inspector Nikolai Sant explain how Police officers had observed a man and two women entering the same toilet cubicle at the Havana nightclub in November 2014. The trio were searched and the man was found to be carrying a bag of what was suspected to be cocaine. 

Inspector Sant told the court that the man, Glendon Chappell, had started to cry and explained that he had just received a conditional discharge. He collaborated with the police, telling them that he had bought the drugs from a bouncer who worked the door at Déjà vu. He pointed out the accused, Patrick Gatt, to the police. 

Officers then arrested Gatt, who resisted and slightly injured two officers, and found him to be in possession of a number of empty bags normally used in the trafficking of drugs.

The accused had initially complied with the police search but when police tried to search a particular pocket of his jeans he had resisted. The man and three police officers ended up grappling on the floor, falling down two flights of stairs in the process. The bouncer resisted with such violence that backup had to be called in order to handcuff him.

Three small packets of white powder were retrieved from his jeans pocket. Tests later confirmed the substance to be around 2 grams of cocaine of around 18% purity.

The accused denied selling to Chappell, saying he had never sold drugs to anyone. He claimed to have a drug problem that Caritas was helping him with.

Gatt explained that he had been outside the club, near the door, when the three plain-clothed policemen came up to him. He claimed that the officer had failed to identify themselves as such.

“One of them grabbed my finger and twisted it, the other grabbed my arm too and I tried to get my finger free and we ended up on the stairs and fell all the way down to the bottom.” He claimed that the fall had broken one of his teeth.

Gatt also claimed that the police had beat him with a baton and had refused to take him to hospital, taking him to the Floriana polyclinic instead. He explained that a number of small bags found at his house were used to carry lead shot for his homemade shotgun cartridges. €500 cash found in his car was meant to pay for the repair of his sister’s car, he said.

Although the defence submitted that Chappell claimed to have bought the drugs from a bouncer and the accused was, in fact, a taxi driver, the court said that this was a minor detail in the context of the other facts before it.

Additionally, a policeman had testified to seeing the accused stopping people at the door, despite not having a security guard tag.

The court said Gatt’s denial was not credible, taking into account the fact that in his home a hidden wall compartment full of little plastic bags was found. Although it conceded that his explanation about the bags could be truthful, it was not going to accept it in the context of the larger picture of evidence.

On the resisting arrest charge, the court observed that the man’s claim to have been thrown down the stairs by the police did not hold water. “It emerges as proven that the police fell down the stairs with the accused and this due to the fact that he resisted arrest. It must be said that it is established that the accused resisted his arrest before falling down the stairs together with the police officers.”

In its sentencing considerations, the court took into account the nature of the offences, the accused’s already-blemished criminal record, the value of the drugs found, as well as the reports by Caritas and psychotherapists which indicated that the accused is making progress with his drug problem.

The court found Patrick Gatt guilty of all the charges against him and sentenced him to 30 months imprisonment together with a fine of €6,000. He was also ordered to suffer the costs of the case. The drugs will be destroyed.

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