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‘Victim of circumstances’ convicted for 250 lbs of weed

‘Victim of  circumstances’ convicted for 250 lbs of weed

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Stern in the face of the sad tale of one Union Island man, described as a “victim of circumstance” by his lawyer, the court penned an equally sad ending.

Two hundred and fifty-seven pounds of cannabis was brought to the Serious Offences Court this Tuesday, to support the charge being laid against its alleged

owners, Israel Thomas and Keith Williams of Union Island. Williams pleaded not guilty and he did not stay in court for long, as he was granted bail in the sum of $80,000 and his surety was accepted.

Thomas, on the other hand, had pleaded guilty and would receive sentencing on that day.

Listening as the events of that day were recounted by a police officer, Thomas stood facing front, with his arms at his sides, without expression.

The police stated that it was last week Thursday, at around 7:15 p.m. when, acting on information, they were conducting a stop and search operation in the area of Ashton, Union Island. Stopping a truck in which the two defendants were seated, the officers of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) removed tarpaulin covering something in the back of the vehicle in the process of searching it. They observed seven nylon sacks underneath the covering, but the defendant would not answer their questions as to what they contained. All sacks and the defendants were taken to the police station, where the sacks were opened and brown taped packages with material ressembling cannabis revealed.

Thomas then allegedly said, “Is my weed. I only hired Keith to pick them up.”

His lawyer Roderick Jones was hopeful that instead of a prison sentence the 32-year-old man would be able to get a fine. He said that he wished to give a title to his mitigation, calling it “a victim of circumstances.” Thomas’ world was, at the tender age of six years, turned upside down, the lawyer said, and “his father was unceremoniously removed from his life.” His father was apparently the sole breadwinner of the family when he died, Thomas’ mother having no significant employment. Things had become difficult financially for the family and “in fact, your Honour, Israel Thomas was one of the persons who fell through the cracks,” Jones said. Not being able to afford an education, Thomas never finished his schooling, said his lawyer. Therefore, out of school and without means to find a job, “exposed to the allure of the drug world,” and a mother with “very brief stints of employment”, it was said that the defendant turned to selling drugs. Once in the drug world, Jones said it was difficult for Thomas to get out. His mother and siblings were dependent on him, as if he were the father in the family. Jones asked that a fine be imposed and time given for it be paid.

Before standing the matter down to think about it, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias stated that a few things struck her from the mitigation and that parents should step up and take on the responsibility, whatever the circumstances.

“Tragic circumstances should cause us to elevate ourselves as parents,” said the Chief Magistrate.

However, when she returned, she handed down a prison sentence of five years, explaining that the amount of drug was inescapable.

A cry of disbelief came from a woman in the court room who had to leave, while Thomas just nodded when he heard his sentence.

Williams will have his trial on January 29.(KR)