Drug dealer has jail sentence reduced, despite inaccuracies in appeal

The man’s sentence was decreased from nine months in prison and a fine of €950 to seven months in prison and a fine of €700

Among the charges against the man was that he had sold drugs within 100m of  placed frequented by youths (File Photo)
Among the charges against the man was that he had sold drugs within 100m of placed frequented by youths (File Photo)

The Court of Criminal Appeal has amended a sentence handed down to a man found guilty of dealing drugs in Paceville, in an appeal it said was "fraught with inaccuracies".

Abdikarim Isman Omar, 22, from Somalia, had been convicted of possession of cannabis with intent to traffic, committing that offence within 100m of an area frequented by youths and exposing himself in a public place, among other things.

He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment together with a fine of €950 and ordered to suffer the costs of court-appointed experts.

The court of Criminal Appeal observed that the facts of the case related to the discovery of sachets of drugs, allegedly discarded by the accused upon noticing the presence of police officers.

A number of officers had told the court how he had been observed speaking to a group of persons in an area of Paceville and then crossed the road into a disused field. He was then observed to pick something up from the ground. When police officers had approached Omar, he had thrown away what was later found to be six sachets of cannabis grass. A further four sachets were discovered by police dogs in the area where he had been seen picking something up. 

Omar claimed he had gone to the field to urinate.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided by judge Giovanni Grixti, pointed out that the facts as laid out by Omar in his appeal were “fraught with inaccuracies.”

The court examined the witness evidence and that produced by the accused, noting that the first court had been “thorough and meticulous” in its examination of the evidence, to the extent that it had discarded evidence related to another five sachets which had been discovered hidden in nearby bushes but which could not be linked to the accused.

The appellant had argued that as a person accused, he had no duty to prove his innocence and that it was up to the prosecution to prove his guilt. But to this the court replied that “if by such argument the appellant contends that offering his testimony will automatically mean that the case against him can not be proved beyond reasonable doubt then he is utterly wrong.” Quoting the 1974 case of Miller vs Minister of Pensions, judge Grixti said that “if the evidence is so strong against a man as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour, which can be dismissed with the sentence ‘of course it is possible but not in the least probable’ the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt, but nothing short of that will suffice.’”

The judge ruled that this dismissal of the appellant’s claim to have been urinating was not capricious or taken lightly, but one taken on the strong evidence of police officers.

The court did, however, uphold some grounds of appeal – that the accused was less than 100m from a place frequented by youths. He had been found near Dragonara road in Paceville in a construction site full of rubble and bushes. The court said it was “common knowledge” that the Dragonara Hotel was more than 100m away from where youths habitually met.

The court also upheld grievances relating to the costs of experts, the findings of some of which were irrelevant to the outcome.

The judge therefore confirmed the man’s guilt on the charges of possession, confirmed his acquittal on the charges relating to urinating in public and revoked the part of the judgment which found him guilty of the aggravation of distance. Omar’s sentence was decreased from nine months in prison and a fine of €950 to seven months in prison and a fine of €700.

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