Man cleared of drug charges after white powder turns out not to be illegal substance

A man has been acquitted of aggravated possession after police were tipped off and searched his residence

The substance taken from the man's residence turned out to be a legal one
The substance taken from the man's residence turned out to be a legal one

A man has been cleared of aggravated possession of amphetamine after a white substance found in his garage turned out not to be drugs.

Luke Piscopo, 45, of Hamrun, was acquitted of aggravated drug possession charges by magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras this morning.

Piscopo had been arrested on January 26, 2012 after police, acting on an anonymous tip off, had searched his residence. A white powder, which was suspected to be amphetamine, was recovered from a box in his garage.

After his arrest, he had released an incriminating statement, having refused to consult with a lawyer beforehand. However, as he was not offered the faculty of having a lawyer present during his interrogation, as this was not a legal right at the time, the court said it had no choice but to declare it inadmissible, quoting judgements by the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Constitutional Court to this effect.

In addition, noted the magistrate, a court-appointed expert had carried out tests on the contents of the box and had concluded that the substance was not, in fact, drugs.

With an inadmissible statement and a box of not-drugs, the case was dead in the water and the court declared it as such, acquitting the accused of all charges.

The case comes on the same day that another man, Nathan Agius was also acquitted in a near-identical case.

Lawyer Mario Mifsud was defence counsel.