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Drug importations see culprit imprisoned

Drug importations see culprit imprisoned

Thursday 02 February 2023

Drug importations see culprit imprisoned

Thursday 02 February 2023


A man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and recommended for deportation on his release, after importing cocaine and cannabis in to Guernsey on two separate occasions.

Samer Hancha (21) faced four separate counts for the physical importation of both drugs, as well as importing through the postal service.

0.94g of cocaine and 19.34g of cannabis resin were discovered when Hancha passed through Guernsey Airport last summer. 0.34g of cocaine and 3.96g of herbal cannabis were then discovered, which he had imported through the post between June 6 and 30.

Crown Advocate Jenny McVeigh told Guernsey’s Royal Court how Hancha was travelling back to the island from London Gatwick on July 31 2022 when the duty sniffer dog detected something.

He revealed that he had used drugs the previous day and that he “used weed sometimes” when questioned by border agents but denied possessing them.

A strip search was ordered after which a small Ziploc bag containing white powder fell out of his jeans, followed by an identical bag. A black plastic tub in his boxers was also found to contain a brown residuous substance.

Hancha was arrested and admitted the substances were cocaine and cannabis resin. His mobile phone was seized, and he declined legal advice before his first police interview.

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Pictured: Hancha was sentenced in Guernsey's Royal Court.

On June 30 2022, a postal support worker had selected a package for examination addressed to staff accommodation, which was found to contain green herbal matter and a white crystalized in two separate pieces of plastic wrap.

Hancha’s mobile phone was subsequently examined by the high-tech crime unit. Most messages were in his native Italian, but messages and photos of interest were discovered linking him to the intercepted parcel. 

Correspondence was eventually found showing Hancha discussing the postal importation, and the purchase of drugs in London. A photo of a post office receipt was also found.

Hancha had exercised his right to silence throughout much of the investigation but ultimately requested a third interview on September 27 where he admitted arranging the postal import.

The maximum street value of all the drugs combined was estimated to be £1,854, Advocate McVeigh told the court.

She requested the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs, the forfeiture of the mobile phone since it helped facilitate the offence and reminded the court of its powers to recommend deportation. 

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Pictured: Hancha could be deported from the Bailiwick once his time in prison is up.

Advocate Paul Lockwood, defending, raised two positive references from Hancha’s employer, his probation report, his “impeccable good character”, and a brief personal note which he said was “from the heart”. 

He also said his client “volunteered responsibility” to the police when he became aware that another person may become embroiled in the investigation and wished to prevent that. Early guilty pleas also meant the courts “valuable time” had not been wasted.

Nevertheless, he labelled the offences a “very stupid mistake” 

Advocate Lockwood noted that the total amount of cocaine was “very small” and did not trigger the Richards guidelines for drug sentencing.

While the total haul of cannabis did engage those guidelines at the lower level, he said it was “very well in the discretionary zone”. 

On the possibility of deportation, Advocate Lockwood said there were “no real ties binding him here” and questioned if it would be prudent to detain him locally, costing the taxpayer, before then ordering him away. 

Probation also discovered that Hancha had been recruited into the island via a London agency but did not have the necessary permissions to work in Guernsey. Advocate Lockwood said Hancha was “amazed to hear he wasn’t legally allowed to be here.”

Judge Russell Finch, sentencing, acknowledged the small quantity of prohibited substances, but noted that the abuse of the postal system was an aggravating factor.

A combined sentence starting point of five years was adopted, but this was reduced by three quarters to 15 months - “a substantial discount based solely on this case”, according to Judge Finch.

He accepted Hancha’s “good references” and “good work ethic” but said he “abused the hospitality of this island”, and “the sentence could’ve been higher”.  He added that the lack of a work permit was not the fault of Hancha. 

Deportation was recommended but Judge Finch said it was ultimately for the Lt.-Governor to decide. 

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