Police v MJA

Key Words: Prison inmate – marijuana stashed inside underpants – possess prohibited drug, Section 10(1) Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 – found guilty – non-conviction order, Section 10(1)(a) Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999

Facts:

MJA was an inmate at a NSW prison. Following a family visit, MJA was searched by a correctives officer, who found a packet inside MJA’s underpants. When opened, the packet contained a medium amount of tobacco and a small amount of cannabis. Because of the cannabis, MJA was charged with possession of a prohibited drug.

MJA claimed that he was taking care of the package of tobacco for a friend. He was unaware that the package also contained marijuana – the marijuana was well concealed by the surrounding tobacco.

Outcome:

MJA pleaded not guilty to the charge of possession of a prohibited drug. In a contested hearing it was argued that, legally, the offence of possession required the prosecution to prove that MJA had actual knowledge or belief that he was holding a prohibited drug. MJA was found to be guilty, but on sentencing was given a Section 10 non-conviction order.