SEVERAL PERSONS, including lawyer Jomo Thomas, are questioning the two-year, 10-month prison sentence imposed on a nurse who was found guilty of possession of 60 kilos of cocaine.
The former Speaker of the House of Assembly commented on the sentence last Monday, while speaking on BOOM FM’s OMG morning programme with Dwight “Bing” Joseph.
Lucresha Nanton, 35, pleaded guilty when she appeared in the Serious Offences Court on January 27, to a charge that on January 22, 2022 at Owia, she had in her possession a controlled drug, to wit 59,039 grammes of cocaine with the intent to supply to another at the Owia Clinic.
She pleaded not guilty to a second charge for having the drug in her possession for the purpose of trafficking. This charge was later withdrawn by the prosecution when the matter was heard at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on January 30.
Thomas said on radio that the sentence is inconsistent with what he has seen over the years and used other cases to give merit to what he was saying.
He spoke about David Legair who was sentenced to 10 years for trafficking and six years, two months, 27 days for possession in relation to having 6.825 kilograms of cocaine on September 12, 2016 at the Grenadines wharf.
Thomas said by the time Legair got to court, some of the cocaine was missing but he was still convicted.
Thomas also mentioned Lisa Hooper of Campden Park, and Nathan Smith of Kent, England. Kent pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export, and drug trafficking, and received a two-year sentence for 1,235 grammes of cocaine, which he had in his possession at the E.T. Joshua Airport in July, 2013.
Kent said Hooper had given him the cocaine and she was fined $27,000 for possession and ordered to pay $13,500 forthwith or spend two years in jail.
Hooper’s sentence was appealed by then Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Collin Williams and she was later sentenced to three years in prison by the High Court for conspiracy to export, drug trafficking and possession.
Thomas said the law allows for a matter to be tried summarily or indictably or either way, but, because of the amount of cocaine the nurse had, in his mind, it warranted a High Court trial and not a trial in the Magistrate’s Court as was done.
“I don’t see how this could have been an either way trial, and I cannot see why this lady was tried in the Magistrate Court,” Thomas said.
“You would be illiterate not to think that this must have come from somebody with some kind of connection…,” Thomas said while adding that he thinks Nanton was being used.
“If you recall when she was sentenced, part of the mitigation was that she was being used and that some persons or family members might have used her.
“Well it seems to me, if you are going to use that as mitigation she would have to give up the persons who were using her, but none of that was done, none of that was offered, none of that was demanded, none of that was requested, they simply allowed it,” Thomas stressed.
The former Speaker said it must be that somebody who is highly connected and has influence decided that Nanton would be tried summarily and not indictibly.
Thomas noted also that even if she was tried summarily in the magistrate’s court, that court is allowed to sentence up to seven years but that did not happen.
Thomas said he once had a Trinidadian client who had 215 kilograms of marijuana, and he was tried in the Magistrate’s Court and found guilty, but was sent to the High Court as the lower court thought that even if the convicted man had received seven years — the maximum allowed at the Magistrate’s Court that would not have been enough. He was eventually sentenced to nine years.
He said the DPP can appeal the decision by the Magistrate in Nanton’s case but that office is between a rock and a hard place because it was their decision to try her summarily and not indictibly.
Thomas said at the High Court, the nurse could have received a maximum sentence of 25 years and a fine of up to $5 million.
He surmised that someone found it appropriate not to deal with Nanton in that manner and it brings the justice system into disrepute.
“I mean, this should be reported to the Chief Justice, quite frankly. I don’t see how this makes for a good face for the judiciary in St.Vincent and by extension in the OECS,”Thomas said.
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