Two women facing drug-related charges before the Gozo Courts were jailed and fined by a magistrate who lamented the spread of the vice and questioned the move in favour of legalisation of ‘soft drugs'.

Dorothy Refalo, a 46-year old self-confessed drug user from Sannat, landed a 16-month jail term and a €1,000 fine upon her conviction for aggravated drug possession and for relapsing.

A surveillance operation by the Drug Squad in 2016 had led to the woman’s arrest in Victoria after she was spotted leaving her Seat Ibiza and throwing away something which later turned out to be three sachets of heroin.

A later search inside premises to which she had access had yielded a sizable bag of brownish powder hidden inside a packet of cat food. The woman had also been carrying some €215 in cash.

She had denied the allegations of drug-trafficking, insisting that she had bought the drug for her personal use, getting it from Malta where it was cheaper. As for the sachets, which she had thrown away, the accused declared that she sometimes took drugs while out for a coffee.

The drug totaled 51.16grams of heroin which a chemical expert had valued at €2,455.

In a separate case, Maria Concetta Vella, 53, of Żebbuġ, Gozo, was accused of drug-procurement and relapsing after being targeted by police pending investigations into an overdose case which resulted in the death of a 19-year old man.

The victim had allegedly befriended the woman and used to meet her regularly to furnish himself with drugs, getting a daily packet of heroin.

A third party had testified about two occasions when he had spotted the young man approach Ms Vella’s car in Marsalforn where he was handed foil packets in exchange for cash.

Although the woman denied the charges, the court, presided over by Magistrate Joseph Mifsud, concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove the prosecution’s case.

He declared the accused guilty and condemned her to a four-year jail term and a €2,500 fine payable within six months.

The magistrate criticised those who, “in spite of being granted numerous opportunities, persisted in ruining their life and that of others, sending out runners to traffic drugs during feasts, weddings and other special occasions where people gathered to celebrate”.

The court also sent out an appeal to the media to exercise prudence when reporting drug cases so as not to hinder police investigations, thereby playing into the hands of drug traffickers.