Man Caught With 4.8kg Of Cannabis In 2008 Jailed For 10 Years


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Man Caught With 4.8kg Of Cannabis In 2008 Jailed For 10 Years
Man Caught With 4.8kg Of Cannabis In 2008 Jailed For 10 Years
Photo by : Viktoria Nikolla

A 47-year-old man was jailed for 10 years after a jury found him guilty of the aggravated possession of 4.8kg of cannabis in a case dating back to June 2008.

Back then, Jesmond Vella, known as Il-Bulgaru, was a construction worker who was being tailed by the police on suspicion that he was involved in drug trafficking.

They decided to intervene on 20 June, searching a Mosta garage that Vella and a number of other men were in.

Vella had no issues with police searching the garage and the cars and speedboats kept inside it – no illegal items were found – but was far less happy when police searched a truck that was parked outside.

He insisted that he had no connection with the truck, despite previous police investigations and the documents found on it clearly suggesting otherwise. The police eventually found a metal container whose opening was covered by a loaf of stale bread: they would go on to find 20 blocks of cannabis resin underneath this loaf.

The blocks weighed a total of 4,827.3g and were found to have a purity of 8.2%, with an estimated street value of €30,943.

Vella’s trial by jury was only held late last year, with the lengthy criminal proceedings delayed further after he was arrested in Libya on suspicion of human smuggling and drug trafficking in 2021.

The jury would go on to find him guilty of aggravated drug possession by 6 votes to 3.

Deliberations on the sentence took over 5 months, with defence counsel Arthur Azzopardi arguing that his client should benefit from a reduced sentence after he cooperated with the police to help arrest others, including through a controlled delivery.

The Dangerous Drugs Ordinance sets out that punishment may be reduced by up to two degrees for individuals who help police apprehend their suppliers or accomplices.

Azzopardi also pointed out that the jury was not unanimous in its verdict as he insisted on reducing the sentence by 2 degrees, though the Office of the Attorney General insisted that the reduction should be of a single degree.

The sentence by judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera does not make explicit the reduction applied, beyond confirming that one did. However, the judge pointed out that since Vella was confirmed to be a relapser, his sentence also needed to be increased by one degree: thus cancelling out, at least in part, the reduction in sentence he benefited from.

With this in mind, and after considering a number of sentences issued in similar circumstances, the judge jailed Vella for 10 years and fined him €20,000. Vella was also ordered to pay €1,820.11 in court expenses, and the confiscation of all his assets in line with Malta’s drug laws.

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