An Owia resident has been fined and given a suspended sentence after he went into the Owia Police Station with cocaine in his possession, then escaped lawful custody.
Jamal Young, 28, appeared in the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Monday, January,23, where he pleaded guilty to charges that on January 21, at Owia while being in lawful custody at the Owia Police Station he did escape such custody. In addition, he had in his possession a controlled drug, to wit, 12 grammes of cocaine with the intent to supply to another.
The farmer was remanded into custody until Tuesday where the matter was transferred to the Serious Offences Court for facts and sentencing.
Young also pleaded not guilty to a charge that on January 7, at Owia he unlawfully assaulted Courtney Greaves of Owia. That matter was adjourned and transferred to the Georgetown Magistrate Court to be heard on January 30.
At his hearing on Tuesday before chief magistrate, Rechanne Browne, in the Serious Offences Court, the facts were presented by sergeant Atnel Ash.
The court heard that the defendant was invited to the Owia Police Station as he is a person of interest in investigations that are being carried out. While at the police station, a search was requested and during the search a transparent plastic bag was observed in the defendant’s right hand. The bag was taken from the defendant and he was placed on the prisoners bench. PC 973 King observed small wrapped pieces of aluminium foil in the bag, and when it was about to be opened, the defendant got up from the bench, jumped over the station counter and made his escape.
PC King later opened the foil wrappings and observed whitish substances resembling cocaine.
On January 22, Young was caught and taken into custody where PC King showed him the substance in the presence of corporal 112 Bowens.
Young was cautioned and he said “ah mine”, and admitted to the offences.
The farmer, who was unrepresented, was given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf. He told the court that he has pigs, and grows plantains. He also said that he has a child and a girlfriend who is not working.
Young added that he doesn’t make a dishonest living, before going on to say that he bought the cocaine to resell so that he could make some money to buy pig feed.
He also apologised to the court saying that every action has its own consequence and that he regrets his actions. Young then asked the court to impose a fine and allow him some time to pay it.
The chief magistrate told him, “I don’t think you were thinking straight at your inception.” She further told him that he was invited to the station and he went in with cocaine in his hands. “You forgot?” she asked the defendant.
Browne added,”I can see naturally your reaction was out of pure fright.”
The defendant had also told the court that he was already frightened when he went to the police station and was asked if he had anything to declare.
Police prosecutor, sergeant Renrick Cato told the court that he has no difficulties with the court imposing a non-custodial sentence.
He said, “as it relates to the cocaine, it seems that cocaine is flourishing in Owia. We don’t produce cocaine in St. Vincent. It is wrapped, ready for sale, and it was on him at a police station. That alone tells you that something is wrong. I have no difficulty with a fine.”
Before handing down sentence, the chief magistrate noted that the defendant has previous convictions. However, he pleaded guilty, showed genuine remorse, and he is relatively young. The chief magistrate added that Young appears to be hard working and trying his best, even though he does not have help.
“He is trying hard and this can be frustrating and can lead to foolish decisions, as we saw,” Browne said.
She imposed a three month suspended prison sentence for escaping lawful custody. Young was fined $2,250 for possession of cocaine. However, his guilty plea resulted in a one-third discount bringing his fine to $1500. Young is required to pay the fine by May 5, or he will spend six months in prison.
Browne also issued a destruction order for the controlled substance.