A MAN caught in possession of cannabis had his jail term reduced after appealing his five years and 11-month sentence.
The Fiji Court of Appeal quashed Laisiasa Koroivuki's sentence and imposed a sentence of three years with a non-parole period of two and a half years.
Justice Suresh Chandra, Justice Susantha Lecamwasa and Justice Daniel Goundar agreed there was a lack of consideration for full application of the provisions of the Sentencing and Penalties Decree by the trial judge.
Koroivuki was jailed for five years and 11 months in February 2010 when he was convicted of unlawful possession of an illicit drug.
Police raided Koroivuki's home in Kinoya, Nasinu and found dried leaves wrapped in aluminium foil inside and outside the premises. Tests revealed the leaves were cannabis.
Koroivuki appealed against his sentence on the grounds that:
* sentencing was done on the basis of supply when he was charged for possession;
* the starting point was on the higher scale which did not reflect the circumstances of the offence;
* the final sentence was reached by double counting the aggravating factors; and
* there was a lack of consideration or full application of the provisions of the Sentencing and Penalties Decree during the determination of sentence.
In their judgment, the appeal judges agreed that there was no evidence that Koroivuki had in fact sold, distributed, gave or offered to give the drugs to anyone.
Justice Chandra said the double use of the same factors was tantamount to double punishment and an error by the trial judge.
He said the judge did not expressly identify the purpose for which the sentence was imposed on Koroivuki.
From the length of the custodial sentence imposed on Koroivuki, he said it could be implied that the purpose was both a special and general deterrence.
Justice Chandra said lack of consideration of these factors led the trial judge to erroneously disregard Koroivuki's previous good character.