A Gozo Court jailed a 56-year-old woman for two years for providing heroin to a 19-year-old, weeks before his death by overdose in 2011.
Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech ruled that two incidents of drug trafficking were backed by “clear and irrevocable proof” when she sentenced Connie Vella to an effective jail term. Vella was not held responsible for this death, though the magistrate nevertheless emphasised that drug trafficking “ruined a limitless number of people.”
Oman Galea had died in June 2011 in a Fontana residence, and during the inquiry into his death two of his friends – Jethro Camilleri and Steven Durward – indicated that he used to buy drugs from Vella. Her Marsalforn apartment was searched, but no drugs were found. Vella denied the claims, stating that she had stopped dealing drugs after serving a prior jail term.
Among other claims, Camilleri had told the inquiring magistrate that he himself had purchased drugs from Vella, while Durward said that he witnessed Galea procuring drugs from the accused.
But both friends proved somewhat reluctant to confirm their claims in Court, and Camilleri proved particularly evasive. Magistrate Frendo Dimech went as far as stating that Camilleri appeared to be afraid of repercussions if he incriminated Vella, observing that he would constantly throw glances at her as he testified.
Durward was also less certain of his original claims when he was summoned to testify in 2016. But as he was pressed further by the Court, he ultimately reached a similar conclusion: that he had seen Vella give drugs to his late friend. Magistrate Frendo Dimech ultimately concluded that his testimony, reluctant as it may have been, was credible.
Vella chose to testify, but her choice does not appear to have helped her case, not least because she denied ever going to the Marsalforn parking area – where Durward said the drug deal took place. As the accused had lived in Marsalforn for years, the magistrate shed doubt on the veracity of her statements.
Magistrate Frendo Dimech ultimately concluded that in light of circumstances, she could rest on the statements made by Galea’s two friends, including those made under oath to the inquiring magistrate, to find Vella guilty of two instances of drug trafficking: when Camilleri claimed to have bought drugs from her and the deal witnessed by Durward.
In light of the circumstances, therefore, Vella was found guilty, sentenced to a 2-year jail term and ordered to pay €512.17 in Court expenses.
Supt Johann Fenech prosecuted.