Recovering drug addict given second chance

Nathan Cooper's sentence was reduced from 5 months imprisonment to probation after appeals court noted his efforts at kicking his drug habit

A court of appeal has spared a man accused of drug possession charges from prison on account of his progress in fighting his addiction.

On 16 February 2016, 36 year-old Nathan Cooper had been sentenced to 5 months imprisonment for possession of benzodiazepine, heroin and cannabis.

Through his lawyers Alfred Abela and Charmaine Cherret, Cooper had filed an appeal against the judgment, arguing that he had been trying his hardest to fight his drug dependency but had made a mistake and fallen back into old habits.

Judge Giovanni Grixti, presiding the Court of Appeal, noted that the accused had, on his fourth attempt, concluded the third phase of drug rehab before pulling out of the final phase. However 21 urine samples had shown that the man was no longer using drugs.

By way of exception to the general principle that appeals courts do no disturb the discretion used by courts of first instance in handing out punishment, the Court of Appeal noted that this was a window of opportunity for the accused and in the best interest of society that he be encouraged down the right path.

Noting that “it is in the interest of the appellant that the court is convinced that this change is not one of convenience and at the end of the day he would be misleading only himself if this is not the case,” the court revoked the 5 month prison sentence and instead placed Cooper under a 2 year Probation order.

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