‘Tackling issues in his life’: Justis Smith was fined $1,000 for possessing heroin after being stopped in the street. *Photo by Coggie Gibbon
‘Tackling issues in his life’: Justis Smith was fined $1,000 for possessing heroin after being stopped in the street. *Photo by Coggie Gibbon
A man controversially acquitted of a teenage girl's gruesome murder a decade ago has been convicted of possessing heroin.

Justis Raham Smith, 29, of Deepdale Road, Pembroke pleaded guilty to possessing 0.14 of a gram of diamorphine (heroin) in Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Crown Counsel Nicole Smith told the court police officers patrolling Mr. Smith's neighbourhood stopped and spoke to him on January 29.

Noticing that he appeared nervous they went to search him for drugs.

However, Mr. Smith had other ideas.

"He immediately took something out of his pocket and put it into his mouth," Ms Smith said.

The officers ordered him to spit it out and seized him when he refused.

After a struggle in which they repeatedly ordered him to expel the object, Mr. Smith spat out five foil packets in a paper twist.

He identified them as containing heroin: "They are decks; there should be five or six decks."

"He understands that this is a serious matter," said his lawyer, Elizabeth Christopher in court. "He is tackling issues in his life and is taking steps to deal with them."

Magistrate Juan Wolffe fined Mr. Smith $1,000, noting: "Heroin is a serious drug, so I'll fine you heavily."

Mr. Smith and Kirk Mundy were separately acquitted of murdering Canadian teenager Rebecca Middleton in June 1996 at Ferry Reach. She was stabbed multiple times and raped.

Mr. Mundy served a five-year jail term after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact and later attempts to prosecute him for the murder failed on the so-called double jeopardy ground.

A Supreme Court trial judge directed the jury in Mr. Smith's case to acquit him because of an insufficiency of evidence - a decision that appalled the public and attracted the criticism of the Privy Council.

A judicial review hearing of a decision in 2006 by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to proceed with new charges related to rape, kidnap and torture that weren't laid originally failed for legal and constitutional reasons.

Attempts to pursue the case in the higher courts fizzled out when the Middleton family and supporters ran out of money for the case.