From the Courts
March 28, 2013
Redemption Sharpes man fined $500,000 for cocaine

Redemption Sharpes resident, Calvert Williams Rodney was dealt a double blow after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $500,000 on a cocaine possession charge.{{more}}

High Court Judge Wesley James slapped the sentence on Rodney on Monday, March 25.

Rodney was charged with possession of 10, 896 grams of cocaine (24.4 pounds) and with attempting to export the drug on July 16, 2010 at the Kingstown Port.

On the attempt to export charge, he was hit with another 10-year sentence, which runs concurrently with his 10-year sentence on the possession charge.

Failure to pay the fine will result in an additional five-year sentence.

The court heard that Rodney was a sailor on board the MV Elitha 1, which travelled throughout the region.

The vessel was destined for Tortola.

Acting on information, members of the Narcotics Unit (Drug Squad) went to the vessel that was just about to leave and executed a search warrant.

When the officers got on the vessel, Rodney ran into his cabin and was followed by police officers.

One police officer saw him with a backpack, which he tried hiding. The officer asked him what he was trying to hide and Rodney replied, “Dor lock me up. Don’t tell anybody. Leave it inside here.”

The bag was examined and two green plastic bags were found containing two brown taped packages. The packages were cut open in Rodney’s presence, and were found to contain cocaine.

Under caution, he said “Officer, don’t lock me up. Leave it here.”

Rodney was convicted on March 7, 2013 at the Serious Offences Court, but Chief Magistrate Sonya Young felt that her sentencing powers were not adequate and she sent the matter on to the High Court for sentencing.

The Magistrate has the power to sentence up to seven years and impose a fine of $500,000.

Attorney Grant Connell, who represented Rodney in the matter, argued that if the magistrate does not deem her sentencing powers sufficient for that amount of drugs, the case should have been heard where his client would have all the facilities of the High Court, including a jury, instead of a person to determine his guilt and send it to a higher jurisdiction for sentencing.

“The amount of the drug does not change, so why accept it in the first place?” Connell questioned.

In relation to the $500,000 fine, Connell said only a few people in St Vincent can afford to pay such fine.

“A fine like that amounts to a sentence. Five years in the alternative will most likely be served, given the amount of the fine,” Connell added.