UPDATE: A lawyer for Rebecca Hannibal, the best friend of Harbourlife ecstasy overdose victim Georgina Bartter, appeared in court today, changing her plea from not guilty to guilty.
Hannibal previously appeared in court, pleading not guilty to drug supply. As her case was in the initial stages, the details of her proposed defence were unknown.
Her decision to change her plea is undoubtedly a forensic one undertaken under the advice of her lawyers – it is expected that the police have a strong case against her.
The offence of supply does not require a commercial element – merely giving the pills to Georgina, if that is what Hannibal did, would constitute the offence under s 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.
It would be relevant to the determination of sentence to point out that there was no commercial benefit and the supply was a “social supply” only. While much rarer than in the case of drug possession, on occasion, a plea of guilty to supply (first offence) can result in an order under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. A strategy Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers has employed is to have a supply charge downgraded to a possession charge in exchange for a plea of guilty, which can increase a person’s chance of being dealt with under section 10, even though the quantity of drugs alleged is unchanged. This strategy has resulted in a section 10 order on more than one occasion for some of our clients charged in relation to a (relatively) large amount of pills on their person.
While conjecture, it is possible that Hannibal’s lawyers negotiated with the prosecution to have her charge downgraded to possession from supply, but were unsuccessful in light of the large amount of media reporting around the case.
Matthew Forti, the 19 year old who police allege the pills which killed Bartter were purchased from, pleaded not guilty to a number of drug possession and supply charges in March, and his matters will be dealt with in May.
Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers will continue to follow this case.
Image credit: Daily Mail and Shadow Photography
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