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Allen pleads guilty; says he was offered $5,000 to transport the marijuana

Allen pleads guilty; says he was offered $5,000 to transport the marijuana

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A LIAT pilot has admitted smuggling Bds$130,000 worth of marijuana into Barbados in exchange for a fraction of that amount.{{more}}

But, in addition to not getting the $5,000 he was promised, Keith Richard Otway Allen may have to spend even more in Barbados – either money or time. He will have to wait in Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) Dodds until December 19, however, to find out just how costly his crime will be.

Magistrate Laurie-ann Smith-Bovell, after hearing a plea from Allen’s attorney Sir Richard Cheltenham QC, for “a strong deterrent fine” of up to a quarter million dollars, and testimony from two character witnesses, said she needed more time to decide his fate.

The adjournment came at the end of Allen’s second court appearance since being charged with possession, intent to supply, trafficking and importing 65 pounds of cannabis on November 23.

As his father and mother sat at the back of the District ‘F’ Magistrate’s Court, a glum looking Allen admitted his crimes, quietly answering “guilty” as each of the four charges was read to him again.

The court then heard from prosecutor Station Sergeant Glenroy Boyce that the 34-year-old told police that a man had offered him $5,000 to transport the drugs from St. Vincent to Barbados.

Character witnesses Monty Maule, a Vincentian businessman and Methodist local preacher, and Barbados-based president of the Methodist Church South Caribbean District Reverend Cuthbert Edwards, described that behaviour as out of character.

Maule testified that Allen was brought up in the church by his father – a pastor, retired secondary school principal and former parliamentarian and minister of government in the James Mitchell administration – and his mother, a retired teacher who is also strong in the church.

Edwards, who once pastored the church which the Allen family regularly attended in St. Vincent, gave a similar assessment.

“If somebody had asked me to guess which of the LIAT pilots committed this crime, I would perhaps never have called the name of Keith Allen. I was very surprised on hearing the news. It seemed totally out of character for the youngster I knew.

“I visited him in prison and tried to make sense of what happened. I’m still wondering how come he got himself mixed up in this thing.”

Sir Richard, who said he understood the seriousness of Allen’s offences and would make no excuses for him, asked the magistrate for leniency, considering his client had not wasted the court’s time, had cooperated fully with the police, and was now “very sorry for his mistaken and foolish act”.

Pointing out that Allen had already ruined his career and his parents’ investment in him – which included his father’s gratuity to pay for private school – Sir Richard urged the court to impose “a harsh punishment without oppressing him, because he may yet emerge a good and useful citizen, despite this lapse, serious as it is”.

His recommendation was for a fine in the region of $200,000 to $250,000, payable in three to four months, during which time Allen be remanded. He further recommended an alternative of two years in prison in default of payment.

“I need to think about it,” the magistrate said after Sir Richard’s mitigation. “What I don’t understand is how supposedly intelligent people would destroy their career for $5,000, shame their father and mother for $5,000. I just don’t understand it.”

When contacted on Friday, LIAT’s corporate communications manager Desmond Brown told the SATURDAY SUN the company was aware of the development, but declined further comment.

Management of the Antigua-based airline last week said it was conducting its own investigation into Allen’s actions.(DP – SATURDAY SUN)

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