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St. Lucian fined $10,000 for cannabis possession

St. Lucian fined $10,000 for cannabis possession


St Lucian national Keith Gassie faces 15 months imprisonment if he fails to immediately pay a fine of $10,000 that was handed down by the Serious Offences Court for drug possession.{{more}}

Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, on April 7, 2009, slapped the financial penalty on Gassie after he pleaded guilty to possession of 74 pounds of marijuana on March 25, 2009, at Duvalle.

Gassie, 28, and Leverius Louie, 29, were first brought to court on March 27, where they both pleaded not guilty to the charge. A third St Lucian, Kerwyn Alphonso, also pleaded not guilty to the charge. Alphonso’s charge was dropped.

Louie was also charged with damaging the left guardrail of the EC$2.5 million Coast Guard vessel, Hudson Tannis. The guardrail is said to have a value of $10,000. Louie initially pleaded not guilty at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, but later changed his plea at the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday this week. He was ordered to pay compensation for damage to the rail of $8,000 forthwith or spend two years in jail. The marijuana possession charge was dismissed.

Information revealed in court stated that Coast Guard and Rapid Response Unit personnel were aboard the vessel patrolling the Leeward coast. A speedboat was spotted some distance away and was signaled to stop after officers became suspicious. Packages were seen being thrown overboard.

As the Hudson Tannis tried to get closer to the men, the pirogue slammed into the side of the Coast Guard vessel, causing damage. The packages thrown overboard were retrieved and were found to contain the controlled substance.

Representing the St Lucians, Lawyer Jomo Thomas said that they experienced engine problems while fishing and came to seek assistance in St Vincent. Thomas stated that while Louie went to seek help, a friend approached Gassie and asked him to do a favour.

The attorney disagreed that the damage caused to the Coast Guard vessel amounted to $10,000 and said that the figure should be cut in half. Magistrate Young interjected and asked Thomas if he could substantiate that the damage was $5,000, but he did not respond.