A nurse from Owia has become the first woman to be sentenced to prison this year from the Serious Offences Court.
Lucresha Nanton, 35, was jailed for two years and 10 months on a cocaine charge, her first offence, which was referred to as ‘one of the worst decisions of her life’.
Nanton was sentenced when she appeared in the Serious Court on February, 3.
On January, 27 Nanton had pleaded not guilty to having a controlled drug to wit, 59,039 grammes of cocaine with the intent to supply to another.
She was also charged for having the drug in her possession for the purpose of drug trafficking.
However, this second charge was withdrawn by the prosecution when the matter was heard in the Georgetown Magistrates Court on January 30.
The cocaine was estimated to have a street value of $1.8 million.
In handing down sentence last Friday, February 3, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne said she had consulted the sentencing guidelines and assessed the category of the offence based on the quantum and the role that the defendant played.
She found the offence to be in the highest category, and found the defendant’s role to be significant.
She began at a starting point of 50% of the maximum seven year incarceration, bringing Nanton’s starting point to 3.5 years in prison.
The Chief Magistrate found aggravating of the offence that the drugs were well concealed. The Court came to the conclusion that there were attempts to shift blame after perusing the caution statement. Also, the magistrate found ‘very aggravating’ the possession of trust, responsibility and authority as the defendant was the staff nurse at the clinic. She also thought that the time of night when the substance was taken to the clinic was aggravating as it was well calculated and planned.
Mitigating of the offence, the court considered the element of coercion and persuasion as the people involved were relatives of individuals who the defendant knows well.
The aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and six months were added to the sentence.
The court found no aggravating feature of the offender, and mitigating for her were that she had no previous convictions and she showed remorse. As a result, four months were deducted from the sentence.
Nanton did not plead guilty to the charge at the first opportunity however, she did so after the drugs were tested. This resulted in a nine months deduction from her sentence instead of a 1/3 discount.
During plea mitigation at the Georgetown Magistrates Court on January 30, Nanton’s lawyer, Ronald “Ronnie” Marks told the court that prior to this, the nurse had never been in trouble of any kind.
“She is here today before you as a result of a very bad decision made on her part,” the defence attorney said.
“Without going into too much detail, she was manipulated by a close family member. She at no time knew what it was. However, in the circumstances she should have suspected.”
Marks told the court that it was the first time Nanton was seeing cocaine in her life and that she “allowed herself to be manipulated and wound up making one of the worst decisions of her life.”
He noted that Nanton acted through “coercion or naivety, had no influence at all, and had very little knowledge if any at all of the understanding of the scale of the operation”.
He asked the court to take into consideration Nanton’s full cooperation, her clean criminal record, and her guilty plea.
Prosecutor, station sergeant Renrick Cato had told the court that the offence is of public interest.
“It is not the duty of the court to please the public, but we must take note of the public interest at hand as it relates to this matter,” he had said.
Cato was also of the opinion that contrary to Mark’s reasoning, Nanton’s role in the offence was significant and placed it into category one, noting that the scale of operations was motivated by financial influence.
Nanton was arrested after a massive drug haul was conducted at the Owia Clinic where she was the nurse in charge. This haul came after the police visited Nanton’s home because of certain information they had received.
When a search warrant was presented, Nanton consented to a search of the clinic and her home and she told police that she had nothing illegal to declare. During the search at the clinic, she told the officers that she did not know where to locate a key for a room in the nurse’s quarters.
The police used force to open the door and a brown barrel with a white cover was discovered inside the room alongside a bed. The barrel was opened and medical supplies were found at the top. While these supplies were being removed in the presence of the police Nanton said, “Officer me want talk to me lawyer.”
Fifty-four packages of whitish substance resembling cocaine were found in the barrel. Nanton was arrested on suspicion and she was later charged for the offences.