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Elderly drug smuggler sentenced to 15 years

A 67-year-old drug mule was yesterday jailed for 15 years and fined €30,000 after he was found guilty by jurors of importing one kilogram of cocaine into Malta six years ago.

John Grima, from Ħamrun, had to use a wheelchair and walking stick to get to the dock and stood emotionless as the jurors returned to find him guilty by six votes to three of importation following four hours of deliberation. He was also found guilty of simple possession of cannabis.

Jurors heard Mr Grima had arrived on a flight from Amsterdam on January 24, 2006, carrying the drugs packed into two large, decorative candles.

Customs officers stopped and searched him, finding some €75,000 worth of drugs.

During proceedings yesterday and in submissions on punishment, defence lawyer Joe Brincat asked Mr Justice Michael Mallia to take into consideration that his client was elderly and had serious medical issues.

Lawyers Lara Lanfranco and Elaine Rizzo from the Attorney General’s Office argued that when people in similar cases had admitted to the charges they were jailed for an average of 10 to 11 years while those who contested got considerably more.

She added that Mr Grima was a man of age when the crime was committed and knew full well what he was doing.

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