A man charged with being in possession of illicit drugs was discharged by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
On August 28, 2009, Gabriel Waqa was found in possession of 0.1 grams Indian hemp at Korovou Prison.
While delivering the judgement Justice Salesi Temo said the three-year imprisonment term with a two-year non-parole period, imposed by the Suva Magistrates Court on December 31, 2010, was quashed.
Justice William Calanchini and Justice Prabaharan Kumararatnam agreed with Justice Temo who discharged Waqa pursuant to section 44(1) of the Sentencing and Penalties Decree 2009.
"In my view, Gabriel Waqa had already served his sentence when he was remanded in custody from December 14 to 31, 2010 — a period of 17 days," Justice Temo said.
"In my view, the justice of this case demanded a non-custodial sentence. Consequently, I quash Mr Waqa's three-year prison sentence on December 31, 2010, as being wrong in law, and substitute the same with a conviction."
The court heard that on August 18, 2009, the appellant and other remand prisoners were brought to Korovou Prison after 2.40pm where prison officer Inisimo Roboiliku was on duty.
It heard Mr Roboiliku became suspicious and searched the prisoners.
He found dried leaves wrapped in paper in Mr Waqa's underwear.
It was later confirmed by Koronivia Research Station to be Indian hemp weighing 0.1 and 0.3 grams.
According to the court record, the appellant admitted the above facts in court, and consequently he was found guilty as charged and convicted accordingly.
The court heard Waqa was unemployed, married and has a child and that he was studying at the time of the conviction.