A drug addict has been jailed for eight years after being caught red-handed outside a school with several sachets of heroin mixed with another substance, diazepam, which increases the risk of an overdose.
Michael Portelli, 29, from Santa Luċija, was apprehended by officers from the police drug squad outside a school in Ħamrun on April 5 last year. He was carrying eight sachets of heroin and six pieces of cannabis resin.
Magistrate Marseann Farrugia noted Mr Portelli had admitted to selling drugs to sustain his habit.
She said that, according to this admission, he had been selling heroin in the three months prior to April 2011, during which time he managed to sell about 720 sachets. What was worse, she noted, was that the heroin was mixed with the highly dangerous diazepam, which, according to court experts, increased the risk of a drug addict suffering an overdose.
“The court would like to make it clear that drug trafficking is a very serious crime and it is not an excuse that this is done by a drug addict to finance his addiction,” she said in her judgement.
“Whoever has a drug addiction or has family problems should seek help rather than resort to drug trafficking ... possibly ruining other people’s lives.”
In deciding on punishment, Magistrate Farrugia noted that, since 2007, he had been convicted for possession of a firearm, driving without insurance cover, theft, fraud and forging documents and possession of cannabis and had been issued with a probation order for theft.
She said Mr Portelli had been given several chances to reform but he failed to grab the opportunities. She therefore jailed him for six years and also fined him €4,000.
To the overall jail term she added two years after converting a two-year suspended jail term and added three more months for breach of a conditional discharge after having been caught in possession of cannabis.
She also recommended the prison authorities to assist Mr Portelli with his drug addiction problem.