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12-year wait for drug sentence merits reduction in punishment, Court of Criminal Appeal says

The Court of Criminal Appeal has slashed the sentences handed to a couple who were convicted of possession of heroin because it took 12 years for their case to be decided

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
18 July 2017, 12:03pm
The court noted that the case had been the subject of useless delays which were no fault of the appellants
The court noted that the case had been the subject of useless delays which were no fault of the appellants
The Court of Criminal Appeal has slashed the sentences handed to a couple who were convicted of possession of heroin that was not solely for personal use in 2015 because it took 12 years for their case to be decided.

Ivan Bajada, 41, from Msida, and Clare Borg, 37, from Gzira, had been arrested in February 2003 after an anonymous tip-off led police to raid their Gzira hotel room, where 17.47 grammes of heroin was found, divided into 10 sachets, together with methadone and cash.

The accused had claimed to have decided to spend a week in the hotel while in the process of switching rental premises.

After a number of sittings were put off for different reasons, the including a change of presiding magistrate in 2011, the case had been put off for judgement in July 2012. But further delays meant that magistrate Marseanne Farrugia delivered their final sentences in February 2015, 12 years after the crime. Bajada had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment and a fine of €2,000, whilst Borg had been handed a four-year prison sentence and a €3,000 fine.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by judge Giovanni Grixti, noted that the case had been the subject of useless delays which were no fault of the appellants, including a period of years where no progress was made in the case.

As a result, the court reduced Bajada's sentence to imprisonment for one year, also halving his fine to €1,000, whilst Borg's four-year sentence was reduced to 14 months and her fine slashed to €1,000.

Inspector Johan Fenech prosecuted. Lawyers Michael Sciriha and Lucio Sciriha were defence counsel.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...