Sentence for self-confessed ecstasy pusher slashed on appeal

His sentence was suspended after the court confirmed he took concrete steps to address his drug dependency, albeit eight years after his arrest

The Court of Criminal Appeal has suspended a prison sentence imposed on a man for aggravated possession of ecstasy and reduced his fine after confirming that he had taken “concrete steps” to address his drug dependency problem, eight years after his arrest.

29 year-old Ryan Mizzi from Zabbar had been jailed for 9 months and fined €1000 in 2017 after admitting to charges of possession in circumstances which indicated that the drugs were not solely for his personal use, having been arrested while carrying 15 ecstasy pills on New Year’s Day, 2013.

After Mizzi had subsequently changed his lawyers and filed an appeal, requesting the Court of Criminal Appeal, with Madam Justice Edwina Grima presiding, to assume the functions of a Drugs Court.

The accused filed an appeal, arguing that the punishment was too harsh given the circumstances of the case. His new lawyers, Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb took advantage of later changes in the law to request the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima, to assume the functions of a Drugs Court.

The case was then referred to the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board after the request was upheld.

The Board was shown documents which demonstrated that Mizzi, a long-time drug abuser, had recognised the need to overcome his substance abuse problem and had made progress in his rehabilitation. Mizzi had re-integrated himself into society successfully and tested negative for drugs on a weekly basis, the court observed.

The court upheld the appeal, reducing the nine-month prison sentence to a six-month jail term suspended for one year and reduced the fine to €600. The court also declared that the offence would not be reflected in the man’s police conduct certificate.

Mizzi was assisted by lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb at the appeal stage.