Typo gets inmate off charge of trafficking drugs in prison

A mistake in the time specified in charges accusing a Corradino Correctional Facility inmate of heroin trafficking has earned him an acquittal

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Matthew Agius
11 August 2017, 4:24pm
Ordering that the drugs be destroyed, the court acquitted Cremona of all charges
Ordering that the drugs be destroyed, the court acquitted Cremona of all charges
A mistake in the time specified in charges accusing a Corradino Correctional Facility inmate of heroin trafficking has earned him an acquittal.

Keith Cremona, 29, had been charged with supplying or procuring heroin in prison as well as with recidivism.

A number of prosecution witnesses testified as to how the man had smuggled Cremona's charges state that the alleged crime took place before 10.30 am on 17 October 2009.

The court was told how on 17 October 2009, at around 10.30pm a Correctional Officer had heard inmates shouting, and upon investigating, found Cremona calling out to another inmate in a separate cell because he wanted to pass on some cigarettes to him.

Cremona was waving two two Rothman’s cigarettes and a roll-up, the officer said. 

But when the intended recipient appeared confused as to why Cremona wanted him to have the cigarettes, because he already had a packet in his own cell, the guard become suspicious. A closer look at the roll-up cigarettes revealed that one of them contained a brown powder that was later confirmed to be heroin. 

A bag with more suspicious-looking powder was recovered after a search of the accused’s cell. This powder tested positive for nicotine and heroin. 

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, presiding the case, explained that while the court did not disbelieve the many witnesses produced by the prosecution, it could not ignore the fact that the charges stated a different time than that described by the witnesses: 10.30am when the incident occurred at 10.30pm.

Magistrate Galea Sciberras, citing a number of decisions by the Court of Criminal Appeal, observed that a person accused could not be found guilty of charges which referred to a time different from that in which the offence actually occurred.

Ordering that the drugs be destroyed, the court acquitted Cremona of all charges. 

Lawyer David Gatt was defence counsel.

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