From the Courts
February 14, 2014
British national sentenced to two years on exportation, conspiracy charges

Nathan Smith, the British national who was nabbed at the E.T. Joshua Airport with liquid cocaine in three beverage cans was yesterday, sentenced to two years imprisonment.{{more}}

Smith, 23, of Kent, England, pleaded guilty to 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 included, 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.

On the possession charge, Chief Magistrate Sonya Young sentenced Smith to two years imprisonment, as well as one year each on the exportation and conspiracy charge.

The sentences are to run concurrently.

Before Smith’s sentence, senior forensic scientist, Antoinette Fraser was called to explain how liquid cocaine is different from cocaine in its solid form.

According to Fraser, cocaine in its liquid form is used mostly for concealment purposes. She added that if differs physically from the white powder substance, but noted that all the characteristics are the same.

“To get it in its liquid form, you use basic chemistry. The powder is dissolved into a solution where you get it in its liquid form….To get it back to its original form, you do a basic extraction,” Fraser explained.

She added that the extraction is a multi-step process, where the cocaine is dissolved in liquid.

“You precipitate out the white substance and you do a drying process and that is how you get the white powder,” Fraser further explained.

In mitigation, Smith’s lawyer Grant Connell told the court that his client came to St Vincent, on July 11, 2013, on what supposed to be a holiday.

Connell told the court that Smith was given the plane ticket by his girlfriend’s father. “He was supposed to travel with his girlfriend and two children, but two days before they could not come.”

According to Connell, Smith was supposed to come here to collect samples of drinks.

He said, Lisa Hooper, who is also facing charges in connection with the same incident, picked up Smith at the airport and paid for his accommodation at Hotel Alexandrina, in Prospect.

“He pleaded guilty and did not waste the court’s time. He is remorseful for his actions and cooperated with the police from the the inset. He’s a young man who was duped into doing something very, very stupid… When he was given the cans, he asked if it was only three,” Connell added.

Continuing his lengthy mitigation, Connell said that his client is not an “experienced mule” and that he was offered a trip to the Caribbean.

He asked the court to take into consideration, Smith’s age, the fact that it was his first offence, time spent on remand and asked that a financial penalty be imposed.

When the Chief Magistrate asked Smith if he ever travelled outside the UK, Smith said he has only been to France.

“The thing that has be confounded me and made it more bewildering, is why SVG?”

The magistrate said the only time he travelled outside of Europe, it was to deal with cocaine in SVG.

“That is confusing to me. They were in soda cans, well sealed and that scared the daylights out of me,” Young disclosed.

“When I see concealment, especially of cocaine, it means we are making steps in concealment. I believe you came here specifically to act as a mule and that doesn’t sit well with me. When I sentence, it is to serve as a deterrent,” Young said.

The magistrate said she listened to Connell’s submissions, but noted that she could not overlook the aggravating factors.

“There is conspiracy, attempt to export and possession; I can’t fine you,” Young said.

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 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.

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.

Smith confessed that Hooper was the person who brought the cans for him, while he was staying at the hotel.