An Australian man has been acquitted of drugs trafficking after it was discovered that police had swapped his cocaine for icing sugar.
Nathan John Ralph first came to the attention of the police back in 2019 when the Australian Border Force discovered that Ralph had been sent a parcel which contained 99 grams of cocaine hidden within a book. The parcel had been sent from the United Kingdom all the way to Ralph’s home in Adelaide, Australia.
Police wanted to catch Ralph but did not want to let him get access to the drugs. So, police replaced the cocaine in his parcel with icing sugar and the parcel was delivered to Ralph. Ralph was later arrested after trying to evade the police. However, when the case went to court, Ralph was acquitted of trafficking drugs.
Ralph was acquitted because he never actually came into contact with any drugs, only icing sugar. For a crime to have actually been committed, Ralph would have needed to have acquired the drugs in question, and as he did not, he was acquitted of the charges. However, had the police tried to charge Ralph with attempting to traffic drugs, they may have been successful.
Judge Heffernan stated: “For a completed offence, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had taken a step as alleged with respect to the controlled substance.”
“All of the actions alleged against the accused occurred after the substitution of icing sugar for the cocaine.”
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