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Trinidadian pleads guilty to drug charges

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The Serious Offences Court has sentenced Terrence Francois, one of three Trinidadian men nabbed last week in a major drug bust at Morne Ronde.{{more}}

On April 7, 2009, Chief Magistrate Sonya Young ordered Francois, 23, to pay $8,000 forthwith or spend one year imprisoned after he pleaded guilty to possession of 79.5 pounds of cannabis on March 30, 2009. The O’Meara Road, Trinidad, resident will also be deported on completion of his sentence.

Francois, a fisherman, was charged along with two other Trinidadian nationals: Tyrone Carter, 46, and Aaron Griffith, 19, who both pleaded not guilty to the charges. On Monday, April 6, both men returned to court and the charges against them were withdrawn.

The facts heard in court on April 6 stated that at about 9am, a Coast Guard vessel was on patrol on the Leeward side of the island on the date in question. On approaching Morne Ronde Bay, a white pirogue speedboat was seen heading from the bay out to sea. Coast Guard officers became suspicious and gave chase. While chasing the pirogue, a number of packages were thrown from the defendants’ boat. They were eventually caught and the packages were retrieved.

Under Section 28 of the drug act, Prosecutor, Inspector Nigel Butcher, applied to the court for forfeiture of the pirogue, which was valued at EC$37,000. Francois’ Lawyer, Ronald Marks conceded to the forfeiture of the pirogue and said that his client was indeed the owner of the vessel.

In a plea of mitigation, Marks told Chief Magistrate Young that Francois pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and did not waste the court’s time. He explained that the men were fishing just off Trinidad when they experienced engine failure and ended up in St Vincent. While here, Francois met persons from whom he received the drug, which he hid in the boat to take back to Trinidad to make some “easy money.”

The young attorney pleaded to the court not to impose a custodial sentence but rather a financial one. (KW)

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