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Union Island man faces jail for drugs


Richard Phillips, a 46-year-old Water Taxi operator will now have to double his efforts on the waters, as he has to come up $1400 in one month or he will spend eight months behind bars.{{more}}

The Clifton Union Island resident was arrested and charged with having 1,133 grams (two pounds) of cannabis in his possession on March 1st at Union Island.

He appeared at the Serious Offences Court on Monday before Chief Magistrate Sonya Young and pleaded guilty to the charge.

The court heard that about 4:30am, members of the Rapid Response Unit went to the home of the defendant to execute a search warrant. During the search, a black plastic bag containing the marijuana substance was found under a table in the kitchen. The defendant was cautioned and admitted that the drugs belonged to him.

Along with the drugs, a waist pouch was also found containing US$651 and EC$1400 along with two bombs of cannabis.

Prosecutor Station Sergeant Nigel Butcher asked for forfeiture of the cash saying that he believes that the money was proceeds of criminal activities given the way the money was packaged. Magistrate Young upheld Butcher’s submission and the money was forfeited.

Phillips defence Attorney Bertram Stapleton said that the money found on his client came from a barbecue sale he held on the Friday night and from his Water Taxi business.

He also added that Phillips was practicing Rastafarian, who as part of his religious beliefs, believes that smoking marijuana is okay. Stapleton further stated that people who sell or deal with marijuana usually have their money in smaller denominations. He pleaded with the magistrate to impose a financial penalty on his client instead of a custodial sentence.

Further in his mitigation, Stapleton said that Phillips was the breadwinner of the family and had three children to look after. He added that sending Phillips to prison would bring hardship on his children.

Replying to Stapleton’s mitigation, Magistrate Young said that she was not going to send him to prison because he had a wife and children. “If you come before me again, I am going to send you to prison, I don’t care if he is a rasta of not,” Young added.

Phillips has four previous convictions of a similar nature.