The driver of a vehicle that was transporting 33 pounds of illegal cannabis in the North Leeward area was ordered to pay a $9900 fine this Tuesday, or spend 10 months in jail.
Randolph Williams had initially been charged alongside Randolph Samuel and Atiba Jones for the offence, but he decided to plead guilty this week, while his co-accused maintained that they were not guilty. Consequently, the prosecution eventually withdrew the charge against Jones and Samuel.
Earlier this year, in the early afternoon of July 7, the three had been stopped by the Rapid Response Unit(RRU), who were conducting a stop and search along the Richmond public road.
The vehicle that they were travelling in, a brown Toyota Corolla number plate R7852, was signalled to stop, and Williams complied. Samuel and Jones were both passengers in the vehicle, with Samuel sitting in the front seat, and Jones in the back.
They all told the police that they had nothing to declare, and a search of their person produced nothing illegal. However, during a search of the car, a black disposable bag and brown sack were found in the trunk. Brown taped packages in the sack and disposable bag were cut open to reveal cannabis.
When cautioned by the police, the three made no comment. The drug was weighed, and found to amount to 14,982g (33 lbs), resulting in a charge of possession with intent to supply.
On Tuesday, at the Serious Offences Court, no criminal record for Williams was produced, but Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne commented that he had an antecedent, albeit not of a similar nature. This was confirmed by Williams.
In mitigation, counsel Grant Connell, indicated that his client was a 41-year-old father of one, who is “extremely remorseful” for his actions.
He said that according to his instructions, Williams was coming from Richmond, when someone asked him to drop off some packages. Williams apparently had his suspicions, but it was a relatively short distance to Chateaubelair.
“He is not a user of it, nor is he a seller,” Connell noted, and that the defendant has managed to walk the “straight and narrow” for a long time.
“In all of that, he is still mortal. This is not a hanging offence. It is one that will forever be present in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Once there is sunshine, there will be ganja. And those who want to fight it… it may even grow on their grave…” the lawyer said.
A document was submitted with the value of the drug, as estimated by Junior “Spirit” Cottle, who “sits on the Committee for the medical Marijuana”.
During his submissions, the lawyer asked that a fine be imposed, with time to pay.
He contemplated on weighing the offence against “others”, and that Williams was caught with “compressed bush” in an area where it is prevalent.
“In an area where that same sack of bush to which I refer has educated many, has put the shoe on many a foot, the shirt on many a back and food in many a belly in that area, and throughout St Vincent, in the pockets of business places in St Vincent…,” Connell said.
“So I’m asking the court not to join the hypocrisy of the wiser ones in this country who have a strange way in showing the love for the poor,” he asked Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne.
There was no submission on sentencing by the prosecution.
A fine of $14,850, less one third, taking it to $9900, to be paid forthwith, was ordered, with a default of 10 months imprisonment.
Williams, who seemed to produce a wad of money from his pocket, paid the fine, and left the court premises behind his former co-accused, while covering his head and face with his shirt to avoid pictures.