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Campden Park woman to know fate April 14

Campden Park woman  to know fate April 14

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Magistrate at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court Rechanne Browne-Matthias will, on April 14, decide on the fate of Lisa Hooper – the woman in the cocaine in cans case – following strong closing arguments from the defence and prosecution, on March 28.{{more}} On Friday, senior prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Adolphus Delpeche submitted that the prosecution was relying on testimony from their star witness, Nathan Smith.

Smith, who was charged jointly with Hooper, told the court that it was she who brought him the three beverage cans, which were later discovered to be filled with liquid cocaine. He had earlier pleaded guilty to his charges at the Serious Offences Court and is currently serving a two-year sentence. The cans containing the cocaine were found in Smith’s luggage at the E.T. Joshua Airport on July 24, 2013.

Hooper, 22, of Campden Park, is charged with possession of 1,235 grams of cocaine, conspiracy to export, and drug trafficking, between July 1 and 24, 2013, at the E.T. Joshua Airport.

According to Delpeche, it was Smith’s evidence that Hooper bought groceries for him, carried him to the beach and took care of him, while he stayed at the Hotel Alexandrina, in Prospect. “Every other thing, if I understand the defence case, is correct, except the tins containing the substance…,” Delpeche stated. Delpeche said once the magistrate, who serves as judge and jury, once she believes his testimony, she can convict safely. He further added that an accomplice can be a competent and believable witness.

Arguing on the charge of possession, Delpeche said one does not have to be found with something in their physical possession to be convicted for possession, in law. “It is the evidence from Nathan Smith that at some point, she (Hooper) had physical possession of those things,” Delpeche said. “She denies supplying the cans. Why would she deny supplying the tins? She admit carrying food stuff and strong rum. You admit the man was all right, that you did not have no bad blood between you and him; why would he say you brought him these tins? That is her conduct, your honour,” Delpeche further submitted.

He said the reason why Hooper denied supplying the three cans of Presidente Beer, Vitamalt and Hairoun Beer filled with cocaine is because she knew what they contained. “The defence is not saying, well I buy these things off a shelf and I don’t know what is in them. She’s not saying that. She’s saying that she does not know anything about the drinks. Nathan Smith is saying you (Hooper) brought them for me,” Delpeche stated.

Based on the evidence of the case, Delpeche said there must have been a conspiracy.

“She looked after him, brought him shaving cream, she got food for him, she picked him up at the airport. All that, the prosecution submits, is tantamount to conspiracy…,” Delpeche stated.

In response, Hooper’s counsel, Jomo Thomas said in looking at the charges which Hooper faces, close attention has to be paid to the fact that when Hooper went to England for the first time in 2009, she was a 17-year-old. “She met a man, fell in love with him, made love to him and became impregnated. She has a two-year-old child for this man…” Thomas said. Thomas said Hooper was invited to Jamaica to meet her boyfriend, Garfield Mattis’ parents. “None of that is abnormal,” Thomas said. “If any normal 17-year-old gets pregnant for a man. The man visits her homeland twice. He invites her to his homeland; these are normal basic things that people in love would do…,” Thomas submitted.

Under cross-examination, Hooper had told the court that she never went to where her child’s father lived, nor was she ever invited to his barber shop or the place where he sells clothing. Thomas said, in the evidence of Inspector Foster Scott of the Narcotics Division, when they went to search the hotel room that Smith occupied, they met food, including canned items. “So, the heavy weather which the prosecution makes about the can stuff comes to nothing,” Thomas said.

Speaking on the issue of possession, Thomas submitted that the Delpeche did very little on the application of the law as it relates to the law on possession.

According to Thomas, when the circumstances of the case are looked at, it is clear that Smith was afraid of naming the persons who contributed to his arrest.

Thomas also noted that it was easy for Smith to pick on a young, “defenceless” and “weak” Hooper. Smith is 23 years old.

Thomas strongly submitted that his client never had control of the cans and that there was nothing in the evidence that indicates that she

had knowledge of what Smith had in his possession.

“I am submitting that Smith has something to hide and he is hiding it because he knows… Even when we take the prosecution case at its highest, this young lady can’t be found guilty,” Thomas said.

“Knowledge cannot be imputed here. That is our submission on the point of possession,” he continued.

“Smith could not bring himself to say he got the cans from someone else. We are saying that the fundamental reason for his failure to speak the truth is because he fear the repercussions.”

Thomas said there is no proof his client had control over the cans or knowledge of them. “This, as an investigation, I must admit, did a monumental injustice to St Vincent and the Grenadines, because somebody or a group of persons somewhere in St Vincent has the capacity to put liquid cocaine in cans that you or I may think is a malt or beer. “For these investigators to come here and hold on to this 22-year-old girl and want to convict her for being in possession, is a travesty,” Thomas further submitted.

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