Cannabis traffickers' sentences reduced after appeals court notes assistance to police

Two men who had been jailed in 2012 for trafficking over half a kilogram of cannabis have had their sentences reduced on appeal

File photo
File photo

Two men who had been jailed in 2012 for trafficking over half a kilogram of cannabis have had their sentences reduced on appeal.

Andre Falzon, 34, from Qawra and Sean Farrugia, 36, from Birkirkara had been found guilty of trafficking nearly 700 grams of cannabis by Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia in 2012.

The men had originally been sentenced to six and five years respectively, but this was reduced to four and three years on appeal. Fines of €4000 imposed on each accused were not varied by the Court of Appeal, however.

Falzon and Farrugia had been arrested in 2009 after Falzon’s mother found a package containing 684g of cannabis at her home. The men had admitted that the package had been taken there by Farrugia, who had taken it from a third party’s residence after that person had refused to return a wallet containing €400 that Falzon had left behind there.

Farrugia had given the packet to Falzon for safekeeping until the wallet was returned.

The police investigation led to the arrest of David Bajada, 32, from Naxxar, following a controlled delivery by Falzon. Bajada had later been charged separately with trafficking, cultivating and possessing cannabis as well as trafficking 240g of heroin and jailed for one year.

 Madam Justice Edwina Grima noted that Falzon and Farrugia were contending that they had made efforts to reform themselves since the time when the offences were committed.

The judge said that while it was true that they had been doing their best to overcome the drug addiction that had taken over their lives, the case at hand dealt with the trafficking of drugs in amounts that were “not negligible.”

The court also noted that Bajada had been sentenced to less because his case had dealt with a smaller amount of drugs and because Bajada had been cleared of the charge of dealing with conspiracy.

What the first court had not taken into account in awarding punishment, said the judge, was the roles that Falzon and Farrugia had in this criminal enterprise. From the evidence, it had emerged that they had acted as intermediaries in the exchange of around 700g of cannabis, but the parties directly involved in the deal had never been intercepted by the police, observed the judge.

A reduction in punishment was granted in view of the fact that the appellants had made progress in turning over a new leaf in the intervening years, as well as because they qualified for a reduction in punishment by one or two degrees, due to having assisted the police in their investigations.

 For these reasons, the court upheld the appeal in a limited manner, confirming their guilt but varying the punishment to four years in the case of Falzon and three years for Farrugia.

Farrugia was represented by lawyer Arthur Azzopardi in the proceedings, with lawyer Veronique Dalli appearing for Falzon.