From the Courts
March 31, 2017
Spare youths convicted for ganja from criminal records – Israel Bruce

A lawyer here has called on Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias to assist with having marijuana decriminalized, at least to the point where youngsters found guilty of being in possession of the drug are not given criminal records.

Israel Bruce made this suggestion at the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday, after 20-year-old Erron Lavia told the court that the 1,555 grams of cannabis that he and Lyndon Prince, 34, were charged with being in possession of, was to assist in financing the construction of a downstairs of a house.

Lavia, who farms and does work as a labourer, said he was “fed up” of being thrown out of his mother’s house and wanted to raise money to have a place of his own.

During mitigation on Prince’s behalf, Bruce took the opportunity to point out that Lavia’s issue represents a reality that too many young people are faced with. He stated that he trusts that the chief magistrate would help by detering young people from selling the drug or even working towards decriminalizing it to the point where it does not cause young persons to have criminal records.

The chief magistrate pointed out that the fact that both men did not complete their education process puts them at a disadvantage and was a major contributing factor in their current predicament.

Prince left the education system at third form, while Lavia left at fourth form.

Police say that around 3:20 p.m. on Monday, March 27, PC 448 Simmons was on duty at the Colonarie Police Station when he received a tip off. This information caused him to go to the Colonarie public road, stop vehicle H 3536, apprehend both Prince and Lavia and take

them inside the police station.

PC Simmons informed both men of his duty and a search of Lavia’s backpack revealed four packages containing the drugs. The offence was pointed out to both men and they pleaded guilty at the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday.

During mitigation for his client, Bruce said Prince fully cooperated with police during the process and he was only in possession of 700 grams, based on the agreement he had with Lavia.

He then asked that his client be given time to pay a fine.

Browne-Matthias said that the fact that both men pleaded guilty at their first available opportunity goes to their credit and fined them $1,000 each – to be paid by June 9, 2017. In default they will spend nine months in prison. (AS)