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St Lucian man gets four years for marijuana possession

St Lucian man gets four years for marijuana possession


St Lucian national Javy Christopher was yesterday sentenced to four years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to having 400 pounds of marijuana in his possession.{{more}}

Christopher, a 29-year-old fisherman, was one of three men found aboard the vessel in which the controlled drug was discovered.

However, he stood unaccompanied before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias at the Serious Offences Court after his shipmates were cleared of their charges.

According to the facts given in court, on October 2, at 11:05 p.m., a joint party of officers from the Narcotics Department and Coastguard, headed by petty officer Williams, while acting on a tip-off, headed to the leeward side of the island on sea patrol.

While there, Williams observed a boat moving along the shoreline and shone a light on the vessel, asking the captain to stop. However, the boat increased speed, ignoring his request.

The coastguard vessel immediately gave chase, and while doing so officers observed three men throwing nylon sacks overboard.

After warning shots were fired by the police, the boat came to a halt, and the officers boarded.

Upon observing one nylon sack aboard the vessel, the men were asked if they had anything illegal to declare, to which they replied, “yes officer, weed.”

A search was then conducted and three parcels containing the illegal drug were discovered aboard, along with eight additional sacks recovered from the area of the sea where they were thrown overboard.

Defence lawyer Grant Connell told the court that his client was hired to deliver the items after being given $15,000 to purchase the drug, which Connell valued at $190,000.

He argued that his client had no rap sheet and that he was a mere fisherman, who provided for his children in this manner.

“He didn’t shoot any police; he stopped,” said Connell in Christopher’s defence, adding that marijuana is the “lifeblood” of St Vincent and the Grenadines and persons must not remain blind to the fact that it assists in providing school fees and clothing, among other things.

Connell, who on multiple occasions has argued that the drug should be legalized, asked for leniency in the form of a fine for each offence, stating that the reality of the matter is that 10 times the quantity of drugs will be regrown than will be destroyed by the police.

“He is just an innocent fisherman that was given a job to collect produce that happens to not be legal.”

After considering the mitigating factors, including the fact that Christopher had no criminal record, Browne-Matthias also noted the aggravating factors, before handing him a four-year custodial sentence.

The Chief Magistrate said discretion was used in not fining him or giving him the maximum sentence for an offence that is deemed a serious one.

A destruction order was given on the drugs.(AS)