Slap on the wrist for plasterer caught with drugs in Paceville

In its considerations on punishment, the court took into account that man's previous conviction for complicity in aggravated theft and his early guilty plea

The accused was caught in Paceville carrying drugs
The accused was caught in Paceville carrying drugs

A self-employed plasterer from Libya has been handed a conditional discharge a fine of €850 after being found guilty of aggravated possession of drugs in Paceville in December last year.

Emad Abdelhamid M. Younis was arrested on 4 December 2016 opposite the Footloose nightclub in St George's road in Paceville, where he was found to be in possession of cannabis and cocaine by plainclothes police officers. The absence of paraphernalia used to consume the drugs, led the police to suspect that he intended to sell the illicit substances.

Upon his arrest, Younis had denied selling drugs, releasing a statement wherein he explained that he was a self-employed plasterer and earned between €2,000 and €2,800 every month - or over €33,600 annually - from his work. He lived in shared rented accommodation with five other Libyan friends, sharing the €650 rent and €250 utility bills between them. The court noted that the accused's monthly expenses relating to rent, water and electricity were around €129.

He claimed to have been smoking around two grammes of marijuana daily for the past eight years, spending an average of €420 on the drug. He would spend another €900, on average, monthly to supply his cocaine habit, as well as another €340 on cigarettes he said.

Younis was charged with possession of cannabis resin and grass, in circumstances that showed they were not for his sole use, possession of cocaine, disobeying police orders, and committing the crimes less than 100 metres away from a place where young people gather and relapsing.

He had insisted that the drugs were all for his own consumption and that he had just bought them. He admitted that he had no rolling papers or tobacco on his person at the time, but claimed to have been going to buy cigarettes. Younis said that he had tried to escape when the police closed in on him because he panicked.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras noted that the accused's claim of consuming two grammes of cannabis every day would mean that he smoked 10 joints on a daily basis, and remarked that this was “slightly exaggerated,” but not impossible, given that he had claimed to have been a regular cannabis smoker for the best part of a decade.

The court noted that despite the fact that the man had been arrested in Paceville, which is a known drug dealing hotspot, the manner in which the five sticks of cannabis resin and two small bags of cannabis leaf had been packaged did not, in themselves, lead the court to be morally convinced that the drugs were intended for sale.

On the other hand, the court also observed that the accused had no rolling papers, lighters or tobacco on his person at the time of his arrest. He was only carrying €40 in cash at the time.

The accused had initially stated that he would share his drugs with his friends, but later corrected himself to say that they would all bring their own drugs. The court was not deceived, however, and said that it was clear that the crime of aggravated possession of drugs with the additional element of sharing, was present.

The magistrate disagreed with the defence's assertion that the half gramme of cocaine could have been “contact traces,” saying the evidence did not support this. The accused had also explained his cocaine use habit to the court in detail, it said. She also pointed out that the accused had committed the crimes just six months after his release from prison.

The court found him guilty of all charges.

In its considerations on punishment, the court took into account that man's previous conviction for complicity in aggravated theft, his early guilty plea, the small amount of drugs and the three months he had spent in preventive custody and conditionally discharged him for three years, also fining him €850. He was ordered to pay part of the costs.