From the Courts
February 4, 2014
English man to be sentenced today on drug charges

The 22-year-old English man who pleaded guilty to three charges related to liquid cocaine found in beverage cans, will be sentenced today, at the Serious Offences Court.{{more}}

Nathan Smith who pleaded guilty to the charges on January 28 was scheduled for sentencing yesterday, but the matter was adjourned to today’s date after certain matters arose with Chief Magistrate Sonya Young.

Smith was charged with attempting to export 1,235 grams of cocaine on July 24, 2013, at the E.T. Joshua Airport. He was also charged with possession of 1,235 grams of cocaine with intent to supply.

His charges also include, that between July 1 and July 24, 2013, at Prospect, he did agree with Lisa Hooper of Campden Park, and others, that a course of conduct be pursued which, if the agreement was carried out in accordance with their intentions, would necessarily amount to, or involve the commission of the offence of exportation of a controlled drug – to wit 1,235 grams of cocaine.

Also that, between July 1 and 24, at Prospect, he did agree with Lisa Hooper of Campden Park and others, that a course of conduct be pursued which, if the agreement was carried out in accordance with their intentions, would necessarily amount to, or involve the commission of the offence of drug trafficking. On July 24, Smith was also charged with possession of 1,235 grams of cocaine for the purpose of drug trafficking.

However, senior prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Adolphus Delpesche, withdrew the last two charges against Smith.

His co-accused, Lisa Hooper has three similar charges against her, to which she maintains a not-guilty plea.

A date is to be set for her trial.

According to the facts read out in court, Smith arrived in St Vincent on July 11, 2013, on Liat flight 755 via Barbados from the United Kingdom.

Only July 24, at about 5:30 a.m., Police Constable 272 John of the Narcotics Unit, acting on information, went to the airport.

On arrival, John saw when Smith cleared immigration and security officials. John then approached Smith and informed him that he was a police officer.

John requested a search on his person, but nothing illegal was found.

John then questioned Smith about his luggage and subsequently escorted Smith to retrieve his suitcase from the baggage section.

Smith and his luggage were then taken to the narcotics base in Arnos Vale where a search of the bag was conducted.

In his luggage, three aluminium cans wrapped in separate pieces of clothing were found.

The three sealed cans bore the labels Vita malt, Presidente and Hairoun, all local products.

John then weighed the cans and observed that the weight amounted to more than the 12 ounces stated on the labels.

Two of the cans weighed 14 ounces each and the other 15.

This aroused John’s suspicion and when he opened the cans, he saw brown, oily substance flowing from them.

Tests carried out on the substance proved positive for cocaine.

When cautioned by police officers, Smith said nothing.

Later that day, Sergeant Pedro Harry of the Financial Intelligence Unit (F.I.U.) conducted an electronic interview with Smith.

It was during that interview, Smith told police that he stayed at a hotel in Prospect.

He also confessed that his stay was paid for by Hooper, whom he said brought the cans for him to take to the United Kingdom.

Smith added that he did not know Hooper before and that she visited him at the hotel on three different occasions. He also said they went to the beach on one occasion.

The substance was again sent for further tests, which provided the same results as the earlier test.

Magistrate Young said she was a bit confused that it was reported that the substance was liquid cocaine.

Another officer who was present in court at the time, told Young that the substance was cocaine in a liquid solution.

Young, however said it seemed “a little sophisticated” and asked that the forensic analyst appear in court today to explain her findings.

In December 2013, an estimated US$100 million worth of cocaine, concealed in fruit juice cans from Trinidad and Tobago was seized by US Customs and Border Patrol Officers in Virginia.

The cans were discovered in a shipping container which was destined for New York.

The cocaine was hidden in over 700 cans which were among thousands of cans, many of which contained juice.

Also in December 2013, Vincentian naval officer, Joromie Lewis, died in the UK after he consumed a cocaine laced Pear D drink.