A self-employed Libyan plasterer was conditionally discharged and ordered to pay a fine of €850 after he was found guilty by a magistrate's court of aggravated drug possession.

Emad Abdelhamid Younis, 25, residing in Sliema, was arrested in Paceville in the early hours of December 4, 2016 after his movements aroused the suspicion of plain clothes policemen who were patrolling the area of St George's Road.

As he sensed the police presence, the suspect tried to flee the scene and resisted arrest. A personal search yielded a cigarette packet stuffed with five sticks of cannabis resin, two small bags of cannabis grass and cocaine.

The absence of a lighter, rolling papers and other objects normally associated with drug consumption, led the police to suspect that Mr Younis intended to traffic the drugs.

The man, a relapser, was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis resin and grass in circumstances that showed they were not for his sole use, and possession of cocaine. He was also charged with disobeying police orders and committing the offences within 100 metres of a locality popular among young people.

The court, presided by magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, observed that under police questioning Mr Younis had insisted that as a plasterer he earned an average of €2,000 - €2,800 monthly.

This income covered the rent for the flat which he shared with five other Libyan nationals and the utilities bills. Moreover, he earned sufficient money to fund his expensive drug habit. Indeed, Mr Younis claimed to have a monthly expenditure of €420 on cannabis, €900 on cocaine and €340 on cigarettes.

Mr Younis insisted that he generated enough income to fund his addiction and had never trafficked drugs to increase his revenue. He occasionally also sent sums of money to his relatives back home in Libya.

Before the court, the accused insisted that on the night of his arrest he had purchased the drugs for his own personal use and had then gone for a drink in Paceville where he had been spotted by the police. He claimed to have panicked when the officers approached him and tried to get away.

The court noted that although the accused had initially stated that he would share his drugs with friends, he had later corrected himself to say that each would bring his 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 gram of cocaine could have been “contact traces,” remarking that the evidence did not support this. The accused had admitted to a cocaine addiction, the court remarked.

It was further observed that the accused had committed the crimes just six months after his release from prison.

After declaring the man guilty, the court conditionally discharged him for three years and imposed a fine of €850. In its considerations on punishment, the court took into account the man's previous conviction for complicity in aggravated theft, his early guilty plea, the amount of drugs and the three months he had already spent in preventive custody.

Inspector Gabriel Micallef prosecuted.

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