A British man residing in Malta who had faced criminal action over cannabis cultivation and possession, was acquitted by a Magistrates’ Court today on the basis of insufficient proof, nine years after the charges were pressed against him.

Sean Anthony McGahern, 42, had been the subject of criminal action since June 2008 when members of the Drug Squad searched his Gzira residence and found six potted plants on a bedroom window ledge. Later tests proved that one of the plants was  cannabis.

A young woman who was on the property at the time was arrested and released a statement which she later confirmed on oath before the inquiring magistrate.

The accused was also arrested and questioned by the police. He released his statement without first having consulted with a lawyer, a right granted to arrested persons under Maltese law since February 2010.

The court, presided over by Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, citing previous judgments, observed that once the accused's statement had been released without prior legal advice, it was inadmissible as evidence.

The young lady who had been present during the raid had never been produced as a witness by the prosecution, thus denying the defence the right of cross-examination. Her statement was also declared inadmissible as evidence and was discarded by the court.

The court further noted that since the accused had not been present during the search at his residence which at the time was occupied only by the young woman and her mother, it could not be concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt, that the plant in question was cultivated by accused.”

On the basis of such lack of evidence, the court acquitted the man of all charges.

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