A 28-year-old Owia farmer has been fined in connection with the possession of cocaine, which he carried with him after being summoned to the police station in his village.
The man, Jamal Young, pleaded guilty, on Monday, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court to charges that on Jan. 21, at Owia, while being in lawful custody, he did escape such custody; and that he had in his possession 12 grammes of cocaine with intent to supply it to another.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to a charge that on Jan. 7, at Owia, he unlawfully assaulted Courtney Greaves, of Owia.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett adjourned facts and sentencing to the following day and transferred the matters to the Serious Offences Court.
The trial in the other matter was scheduled for Jan. 30, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.
On Tuesday, at the Serious Offences Court, in Kingstown, Sergeant Atnel Ash read the facts, telling the court that on Jan. 21, about 8:20 p.m., PC 973 King was on duty at Owia Police Station.
Young went to the station on the request of the police as they were investigating a matter in which he was a person of interest.
King informed Young of the complaint and arrested him on injuries and conducted a search of his person.
While doing so, King observed a transparent plastic bag in Young’s right hand.
He took it from the defendant and found it to contain aluminium foil wrapping.
King placed Young on the prisoners’ bench in the station office and was about to open the foil wrappings in the presence of the defendant.
Young got up off the bench and jumped over the station counter and escaped.
King later opened the foil wrappings and observed whitish substance resembling cocaine.
On Jan. 22, police in Owia caught Young and took him into custody.
He was shown the foil wrapping and their contents and told police under caution,
Young further volunteered a written statement admitting to the offence.
In mitigation, Young told Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne that he is a farmer who rears pigs and grows plantains.
He said he does not get involved in making a dishonest living “but got caught up in this situation”.
Young told the court that he worked with someone on Friday and bought the cocaine to sell so that he could make money to buy two more sacks of feed for his pigs.
He said he has a child and his girlfriend is not working.
The defendant asked the court to impose a fine and give him some time to pay it.
He said the officer who was in court knows that he is a farmer.
Young said he wanted to apologise to the police for escaping, adding that he was wrong to have disrespected them in that way.
The defendant said he escaped because he loves football and had a match to play. He said he had planned to turn himself in after the match but wanted a justice of the peace to accompany him to the station.
The chief magistrate told Young that she could see that he was remorseful.
Young told the court that he has two sows, one of which has 11 piglets and the other five.
“I don’t think you were thinking straight at all from the inception,” Browne commented.
“Because police said. ‘I want to see you a minute at the police station.’ You merrily gone into the station with thing on your person,” the chief magistrate further said.
The defendant said when the police called him, “I just go. I am not really a trouble person. Sometimes, you know when you nah expect the unexpected.”
The chief magistrate said she could see that Young’s reaction was purely out of fright.
‘It seems that cocaine is flourishing in Owia’
In his submissions on sentencing, prosecutor Station Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato, told the court that in his years as a prosecutor, he has hardly even seen the court sentence people other than to prison time for escaping lawful custody.
“I am quite aware of the matter and I have no difficulty with a non-custodial sentence,” he said.
“As it relates to the cocaine, it seems that cocaine is flourishing in Owia. We don’t produce cocaine in St. Vincent. It is wrapped, ready for sale and it was on him at a police station. That alone tells you that something is wrong. I have no difficulty with a fine,” Cato said.
In handing down her sentence, Browne said that Young was quite remorseful. She further noted his age, adding that he appeared to have been trying his best.
“It is often great when you have a helpmeet at home to help financially. He is trying hard and this can be frustrating and can lead to foolish decisions, as we saw,” Browne said.
She said she always believes that the police are responsible for ensuring prisoners are secured properly.
Browne imposed a three-month prison sentence suspended for three months.
As regards the cocaine, the chief magistrate said it is “a wretched drug. All sorts of things go into it to make the end product.”
She noted that the law gives her the authority to increase the value of the drug three-fold and to fine based on that value.
She, however, increased the value by 1.5 bringing it to EC$2,250. The court deducted one-third of the value because of the guilty plea, leaving Young with a fine of EC$1,500 to be paid by May 5 or six months in prison.
The chief magistrate also ordered that the cocaine be destroyed.