Police searched man’s home for drugs without warrant, court told

The court said it would decree on whether it can order a man to give a blood sample for drug testing given that no drugs had been found by the police during their search

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A court will decree in chambers on whether it can order a man accused of domestic violence to give a blood sample for drug testing, given that such a request could be in breach of the man’s right to non-self incrimination and the presumption of innocence.

The man was charged with possession of cocaine by the police, who did not find any actual cocaine.  

Police inspector Trevor Micallef arraigned the man, who is not being named due to the nature of the incident, on charges of causing his former partner to fear violence, insulting and threatening her, possession of cocaine and recidivism.

The man’s lawyer, Andre Portelli, explained that the incident took place yesterday, after the man meet the mother of his child and the alleged victim.

The accused insisted that the woman’s new partner would take drugs in front of the daughter causing him to refuse to return the child. He said the woman had gone straight to the police station to report the man for threatening and insulting her. 

Inspector Micallef told the court that the woman had first contacted support agency Appogg before being directed to the police.

On the charge of cocaine possession, Portelli slammed the police’s handling of the allegation, saying that on a simple allegation, the police had searched his house without a warrant. No drugs turned up in that search, he pointed out.

The prosecution requested the appointment of a medical expert to carry out a blood test to confirm whether the accused had taken an illegal substance in the past few days.

The defence objected forcefully to this, arguing that the practical effects of the request are diametrically opposed to the right of non-incrimination and the presumption of innocence.

In view of the nature of the accusations and the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, the defence reserved the right to request the validity of any search of the accused’s residence, which was not covered by a warrant.

The prosecution’s request could not be accepted, Portelli said. 

Magistrate Rachel Montebello announced that she will decree on the blood test issue from chambers at a later stage.

Portelli entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client. Bail was requested and granted against a deposit of €300 and a personal guarantee of €5,000. The man is to also sign a bail book twice a week.

The court also issued a protection order, with the caveat that the accused is allowed to contact the victim solely for the purposes of access to their child. 

“Keep the contact to a minimum or you’ll be breaching bail and the protection order,” warned the court.