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Israel Thomas' five-year jail term for marijuana was reduced by one-fifth. (iWN photo)
Israel Thomas’ five-year jail term for marijuana was reduced by one-fifth. (iWN photo)
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A Union Island man was on Tuesday jailed for five years for possession of 257 lbs of marijuana last Thursday, Jan. 11 in the southern Grenadine island.

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias handed down the sentence on Israel Thomas, 32, at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown after the accused man pleaded guilty to the charge.

Thomas was jointly charged along with Keith Williams, 47, who pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 29.

Acting on information, police on Union Island went on mobile patrol about 7:15 p.m on Jan. 11. 

They mounted a stop and search operation at Jerome Public Road in Ashton, where they signalled motor vehicle TR30 to stop.

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The driver complied. 

Sergeant Williams, who headed the party of officers, approached the vehicle and identified himself and others to the two occupants. The occupants exited the vehicle and the law officers saw a tarpaulin covering some sacks in the pan of the vehicle. 

Thomas and Williams were taken to the police station where the seven sacks were searched and found to be containing cannabis. 

Both men were charged with possession of 257 pounds of cannabis with intent to supply to another.

When they appeared before the Serious Offences Court on Monday, Thomas pleaded guilty and Williams pleaded not guilty. 

However, the chief magistrate did not enter the pleas as the men’s lawyer was not present.

The matter was adjourned to the following day.

On Tuesday, when they reappeared in court they maintained their pleadings.

Williams’ lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, told the court that she had discussed with Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche, the possibility of withdrawing the charge against her client but no decision had been made as yet.

Delplesche told the court the prosecution was continuing with the charge against Williams but one never knows what will happen in the future.

Williams was granted bail in the sum of EC$80,000 with one surety. He was ordered to surrender all travel documents and to report to the police station on Union Island twice weekly until the matter is disposed of. He was also ordered not to leave the state without the expressed permission of the court.

Thomas’ lawyer, Roderick Jones, told the chief magistrate he was throwing his client at her mercy. He said his client was a victim of circumstance in that at the age of 6, his father, who was the breadwinner, was “unceremoniously removed from this life”.

 The lawyer said that, as a result, Thomas had a hard life. He did not complete secondary school and had no skill. He committed himself to supporting his mother. 

Jones told the court that in the drug trade once you get in, it is difficult to get out without some intervention.

Jones asked for a financial penalty to be imposed instead of a custodial sentence, but the magistrate reminded Jones of the amount of the fine likely to be imposed given the amount of cannabis.

Delplesche said he listened to Jones’ “sterling mitigation” but the quantity of the drug was substantial. He said some might view it as “chicken feed” compared to what is grown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but in the court it is viewed as “substantial,” noting that the exhibit before the court is what the court has to apply its mind to.