A woman found guilty of trafficking heroin while working at a bar in Gozo nine years ago, had her jail term reduced on appeal.
Dorothy Refalo had been jailed two-and-a half years and fined €1,000 after she was convicted of aggravated heroin possession and trafficking, with charges dating back to March 3, 2010 and the preceding four years.
A third party had testified as to how he used to buy his supply of smack from the woman who worked at a bar in Victoria.
A search at the suspect’s home had yielded a small bag with traces of a brownish substance, a pair of digital scales, and small pieces snipped off magazine pages bearing traces of the same substance, which was later certified as heroin.
In the course of appeal proceedings, lawyer Franco Debono had mounted a three-fold defence, arguing that the accused was facing separate criminal proceedings over the same facts and could thus not be tried twice.
However, this ground was rejected since there had not yet been a conviction in the other proceedings but simply a possibility of one in the future once judgment had been delivered.
The second ground, claiming that the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the drug was not for personal use, was limitedly upheld as was the third ground that the punishment was excessive.
The court observed that the actual quantity of drugs found in her possession had not been determined by the court-appointed expert in his report.
For this reason, the Criminal Court, presided over by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti, in the absence of any other evidence, concluded that the heroin found was just a trace which did not indicate an intention to traffic.
It declared the woman guilty of simple but not aggravated possession and reduced her punishment to a one-year jail term.
The fine, together with the expenses and an order to undergo rehabilitation, were not revoked.
Lawyers Franco Debono and Angie Muscat were defence counsel.
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