A former couple that was prosecuted after 115 ecstasy pills were allegedly found in their bedroom 18 years ago, has been acquitted on account of insufficient evidence.

Stephen Borg, 43 and Chantelle Mari Mallia, 36, had pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of the drug, found by police when searching a Xemxija apartment back in January 2003.

Officers had come across 110 blue pills in a jacket found hanging inside a wardrobe.

Five other pills were found inside the drawer of a bedside table in the room used by the couple.

At the time of the raid, the two-bedroom flat was rented out to Borg and two other men who subsequently testified in the proceedings, explaining that a group of friends would normally visit the apartment at weekends.

The two other flatmates denied knowledge of the drugs and insisted that they made use of the other bedroom, with two single beds, while Borg and his girlfriend used the double bedroom where the ecstasy was found.

One of the accused had also testified that on the day of the police raid, the couple had gone to the apartment after a party.

Some 15 other persons were present, he said, pointing out that others had access to the flat's keys and moreover, the bedrooms could not be locked.

Since 2003, the court case was assigned to different magistrates before ultimately landing before magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras who, when delivering judgment observed that Borg’s version was not credible.

The court, however, observed that the manner whereby the case had been handled from the very start was reproachable.

The prosecuting officer had not testified and the accused’s statements, although inadmissible, were never filed in the records of the case.

No fingerprints had been found on the cigarette packet in which the 110 pills were discovered and the marks lifted off the wardrobe were not clear enough for a fingerprint expert to compare.

Moreover, the crime scene was not photographed and important evidence, such as the jacket hiding the drug-filled cigarette packet, had not even been preserved, thus denying the court the possibility of knowing whether it had been an item of clothing for men or women.

The other five pills found inside the bedside table were linked to Borg’s girlfriend because she allegedly slept on that side of the bed.

One of the couple, if not both, was well aware of the presence of those pills and there was no doubt that the drugs had been found inside a room used exclusively by the accused, the court said.

But that fact alone, unsupported by scientific evidence, was not enough to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt, said the court, noting further that both accused and their flatmates had access to all areas of the apartment.

On the basis of evidence put forward, the court said it could not reach a safe and satisfactory judgment, thus acquitting both accused.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Josette Sultana were defence counsel.

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