Father jailed for smuggling drug to imprisoned son, fearing suicide

Court imposes reduced punishment because of the circumstances of the case

A baker who smuggled a small amount of drugs into prison after fearing that his drug-dependent son would commit suicide without them, has landed a five-month jail term and a €700 fine.

The case dates back seven years when the 58-year old from Valletta was found in possession of a heroin-filled sachet as he entered the Corradino Correctional Facility where his son was serving a prison sentence.

The drug was apparently intended for the visitor’s son, a drug-addict who pestered his father for drugs, threatening to commit suicide unless his demand was met.

The man was charged with aggravated heroin possession, with having breached the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance and with having attempted to smuggle the drug into prison, this last charge later declared to have become time-barred.

During the proceedings, the defence insisted that the accused had never intended to smuggle the drug into Corradino but had merely wanted his son to know that, although he had tried to satisfy his request, he had failed.

Knowing that his father had landed in trouble on his account would possibly make the young man refrain from carrying out his threat, the accused had argued in court.

The son himself, when testifying in his father’s case, admitted to having pressured him into bringing him the sachet, claiming that he could not survive without the drug.

The court heard how the young inmate had actually attempted suicide on earlier occasions, having to be rushed to Mount Carmel for treatment.

But Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras said she was not convinced that the father had never intended to get the drug past the prison checks since it was only half-way through the strip search that he handed over the sachet to the guards.

However, in the light of all the circumstances of the case, as well as the accused’s cooperation with the police which led to criminal action also against his son, the court deemed that a reduction of punishment was applicable in terms of law.

Moreover, the court said it could not ignore the motive behind the man’s wrongdoing which had stemmed from a well-founded fear that his son would actually carry out his threat unless he complied.

The father could, however, have saved himself from such trouble had he sought help by informing the prison authorities about his son’s suicidal threats, thereby ensuring that the inmate would be given all necessary care.

Whilst declaring the accused guilty, the court condemned him to a jail term of five months and a €700 fine, further ordering the destruction of the drug once the judgment became final.

Inspector Spiridione Zammit prosecuted.