Andy “Blacka” Bennett, right, leaves the court in the company of his lawyer, Grant Connell. (iWN photo)

A lawyer has described as  “coincidental” and “ironic” the decision of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to return to a man accused of ganja possession on Monday, EC$53 of US$5,620 (approx. EC$15188.33) and EC$2,200 in cash they took from him after he was nabbed with 47 grammes of marijuana that day.

 “I don’t know if it looks different from the rest money. They took the rest,” Grant Connell told the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday, as he mitigated on behalf of his client.

Connell’s client, Andy “Blacka” Bennett, 62, of Chateaubelair, pleaded guilty to a charge that on Monday, Feb. 25, at Kingstown, he had in his possession of 47 grammes of cannabis with intent to supply.

The lawyer said the EC$53 works out to a little over the value of the marijuana.

His calculation was based on the marijuana going for about EC$1.10 per gramme.

He said that marijuana sells for EC$500 a pound and one pound is 545 grammes.

“Why we love to pressure our own, I don’t know…” said Connell, who suggested to the court that police had searched his client because of his physical appearance.

“It must be something I don’t understand,” he said, adding that it is almost funny.

The lawyer said he came through the airport (presumable E.T. Joshua Airport when it was still operating) once and a jet, belonging to William Wise — was parked right outside the Customs.

Wise, a naturalised Vincentian, originally from Canada, was later jailed in the United States for fraud.

“And he blocked the Customs. All LIAT people have to walk around it because – must be toupee-wearing, Caucasian, briefcase carrying; justified,” Connell said.

At this point, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche asked Connell, appears to be of non-negroid descent. 

Connell, pointing at his client, continued: “Let him try do that. Leh he try block the police or block anybody.”

The lawyer said that his client is a farmer for 45 years and does not have a bank account.

He said the man has all his receipts with him and asked the court to allow him to show them.

As Bennett retrieved the receipts, Connell said, “Any black man that has a bag on their back walking is reasonable suspicion. We have to come off the plantation. This nonsense has to stop,” he said.

According to the facts presented in court, police on patrol stopped Bennett and conducted a search on him in Rose Place, Kingstown because he was acting suspicious on seeing them.

Connell said:

“When I say some things in this court, people does get offended; but sometime you have to offend people.” 

The lawyer read some of the receipts and said: “It is sad. The FIU gone with all the man money and tell me bring him up there 10:30.

“We have all become our own little massas. That is the problem. Get little power, you feel you can abuse a man like this. Sad society. Sick people.”

The lawyer asked the court to take as the fine the last EC$54 that his client had. 

“That’s what they FIU gave him. They have everything for him… I can’t go on record and say he is a traditional farmer because of the hypocrisy of Parliament, the hypocrisy of those in power.”

Delplesche suggested a reprimand and discharge for the 47 grammes of marijuana 

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne told the accused man that the quantity of drug was miniscule.

She said he had no conviction of a similar nature and his convictions are spent.

Before he was reprimanded and discharged, she said the man had spent sufficient time in custody.

Connell said his client intends to apply for a traditional cultivator’s licence to grow marijuana.

The lawyer suggested that the court order that the money be returned to the man.

However, the chief magistrate noted that the sums were not a part of the proceedings.