Drug trafficker's sentence halved on appeal

The man had noticed that he had received a much harsher punishment than a fellow trafficker, arrested on the same day under similar circumstances

An appeals court has slashed a sentence handed to a convicted drug trafficker by half after noting that he had received a much harsher punishment than a fellow trafficker, arrested on the same day under similar circumstances.

Stephen Borg, 41, was jailed for 6 years and fined €8000 for cocaine trafficking in 2015 after police raided his home in Birkirkara in 2009. He was also ordered to bear the €3600 expenses incurred by court appointed experts.

Borg had appealed, arguing that he had not even been present during the raid and, whilst admitting his drug addiction, insisted that it was a case of sharing not trafficking. 

In addition, he argued that another man whose home had been searched on the same day and who had been convicted on similar charges, had been dealt with much more leniently, receiving a 12-month jail term and a €1,500 fine.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, ruled that there was no doubt of the raided building being his place of residence, noting that even his mail had been redirected to the Birkirkara address. 

The judge dismissed the argument that this was a case of sharing, pointing out that several witnesses had testified about buying drugs from the appellant.

However, the Court also took note of the other case concerning another drug trafficker living at St Venera, who was the subject of a police raid on the same day as the appellant.

Despite identical charges, each case and accused had his own story said the judge. She pointed out that the other drug trafficker had beaten his addiction after completing a rehabilitation programme, whilst the same could not be said about Borg, although he had not been found guilty of recidivism.

But the court also said that punishment had to be proportionate and should not vary greatly in similar circumstances.

In view of this, the Court confirmed Borg’s conviction but reduced his prison sentence to 3 years and slashed the fine to €3,000.

Lawyer David Gatt was legal counsel to the appellant. 

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