Opposition Leader Godwin Friday has questioned the thinking behind the court in sentencing a woman who had 60 kilos of cocaine in her possession to two years and 10 months in prison.
“… 60 [kilos] of cocaine and you get less than three years. That is something that other persons may have, whether it’s marijuana and so on, and you get a much stiffer sentence. Where’s the consistency?” the opposition leader said on Hot97 FM.
Friday, a lawyer, noted that the prosecution has the right to appeal a sentence, adding that the Director of Public Prosecution, Sejilla McDowall must decide whether she would do so.
On Feb. 3, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne sentenced Lucresha Nanton, a 35-year-old nurse, to the prison term, one week after she pleaded guilty to possession of the cocaine, which was found in a locked room at Owia Clinic.
Nanton had also been charged with possession of the drug for the purpose of drug trafficking.
She pleaded not guilty to that charge and the prosecutor, Station Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato, withdrew it after consulting his superiors at the DPP’s office.
“Well, it tells us, again, that they have accepted, in the circumstances, that … one person who has a much smaller quantity could have a much longer sentence — 10, 15 years,” Friday said of the message that the sentence was sending.
“And then you have people speculating and saying, ‘Well, why is it different?” he said.
“And then you have the notion that somehow the system cannot be trusted because some people seem to be faring better and some are not.”
He spoke of “the classic case” of Cornelius John who was shot when three people entered his yard in April 2021.
“You still don’t know who shot him. And, you know, the persons who are accused, weren’t even called to mount a defence,” the opposition leader said.
In 2021, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson and Ashelle Morgan, a lawyer and government senator were freed, after a six-day, trial on charges that Morgan assaulted John by pointing a gun at him at his home on April 13 while Nelson was accused of unlawfully and maliciously wounding John by shooting him in the left leg on the same day.
The court upheld no case submissions on both charges.
Friday said that ordinarily, a case involving 60 kilogrammes of cocaine would be heard in the High Court.
At the magistrate’s court level, a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty of possession of cocaine can be sentenced to a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine of EC$500,000.
At the High Court, the maximum penalty is 25 years in prison and a fine of EC$5 million.
Meanwhile, a person who commits the offence of drug trafficking or of being in possession of a controlled drug for the purpose of drug trafficking is liable on summary conviction to a fine of EC$100,000 or where there is evidence of the street value of the controlled drug, three times the street value of the controlled drug, whichever is the greater, and to imprisonment for up to 10 years but not less than five years.
At the High Court, drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The opposition leader noted that the prosecution decides whether a case is heard before the magistrate’s court or the high court.
“All those decisions are made in ways that are, of course, not transparent to the public,” he said.
The DPP has no legal obligation to explain her decisions.
In the classi case of Regina v Sussex the law must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Judge Rechane Brown by sentencing someone who has admitted in Courts to have had 60 kgs of Cocaine , a drug that is not native in St Vincent runs counter to the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. Regina v Sussex shows that there was no transparency or consistency in the sentencing and wondered whether party politics had poluted the criminal justice system
In svg I notice is who you know and who you are, that’s make the justice system a mockery, and a Mickey Mouse system, please please people for the sake of the people of svg, GET RID OF THE U L P AS SOON AS YOU COULD
So this is probably the issue Ralph and John is having with the magistracy? Maybe the magistrate is seeing the controversies with the drug issue in SVG and wants to correct it.
The sentencing is not the issue I have with this case. If she can point to the origin of the drugs and who gave her the drugs, then that’s a better way to ensure the drug-gaps are closed. That’s a lot of drugs for her to grow and handle. She is probably the middle man/woman. So get to the top of the ladder and let the sentence be.
I think that the sentence should of been Suspended it’s too severe it’s Cruel here we have a very Vulnerable working class 35 Year old female taken advantage of by people who have money and other resources and instead of those dangerous church goers and Cruel power hungry Politicians who instead of using the example of how Christ displayed Emphaty and Wisdom deaing with the woman accused of protitution ( selling or receiving payment for service rendered ) they Condem our dear Sister and are attacking our Judiciary I am making my appeal and Plee to the mercy commitity to take into account that Nurses Teachers and ALL Jobs mostly appreciated by women are LOW Income probably the lowest the lady has lost her source of Income and might never be able to get back and practice to become A doctor she might have become A Neurologist A Pediatrician of which st Vincenti has so few please grant the young Lady an opportunity to reform herself
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