Trio remanded on marijuana possession, trafficking charges
Two men who expected to leave the Serious Offences Court as free men on Wednesday and another, who thought he would be fined, were instead remanded to Her Majestyâs Prison (HMP) until January 29, 2018.
On Monday, September 4, the men, David Hepburn of Sion Hill/Vermont and Denrol Walker and Elives Moore of Grenada, appeared at the Serious Offences Court charged in relation to the seizure of 272 pounds of marijuana on board a speedboat.
The men were charged that on Thursday, August 31, off Johnson Point (near Fort Charlotte), they had in their possession 123,488 grammes of cannabis. They were also charged that they attempted to export the drug and that they trafficked in the illegal plant matter.
After hearing the charges, Hepburn and Walker pleaded not guilty, while Moore pleaded guilty in front Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias.
Lawyer Grant Connell, standing up as a friend of the court, asked for time to broker a deal with prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche in relation to the men.
As a result, they were remanded until last Wednesday, but when they appeared in court, things did not go as planned, as Delpesche informed the court that negotiations were âdeadlockedâ.
What followed was a passionate plea by Connell to secure bail for Hepburn and Walker and a fine for Moore, pleas that fell on deaf ears.
In relation to Hepburn, Connell said that he came from a family that was not well off and would have to remain in prison if his bail was too high. He said that Vincentians who are caught with firearms are given reasonable bail, so it makes no sense that bail for marijuana is set high.
âThis is bush, locally produced marijuana,â said Connell, who added that Hepburn was a farmer of legal greens whose mother and girlfriend had no deed and were depending on a friend to present a deed to help with bail.
Fighting for Walkerâs bail, Connell, who was told by the Chief Magistrate to speed up his presentation, said that bail must not be automatically denied because a person is from a neighbouring Caribbean country. He said that part of Grenada is almost in SVGâs waters and one can snorkel from the Grenadines to Grenada.
Walker entered the country legally.
âWe have to get over the barrier of denying members of the OECS their freedomâ¦so what if he is a foreigner? He didnât kill anybody; is not a gun; we have to break down these barriersâ¦,â Connell commented, noting that nobody wants to address issues of this nature.
Connell said the court could ask for a surety, adding, âIf he gets bail and run that is his business.â
Going on, Connell, an advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana, said that this country continues to criminalize marijuana and what should be done instead is that the crop should be used to generate much needed revenue that could go towards buying school supplies and buying medication for the hospital.
He said also that ânobody in a jacket and tieâ usually comes to court charged for marijuana.
In response, Browne-Matthias set Hepburnâs bail at EC$120,000 with one surety. Bail conditions also include him reporting to the Vermont Police Station Monday to Friday and giving up all travel documents. Hepburn remained behind bars up to press time.
Browne-Matthias did not grant Walker bail, telling Connell to let the defendant apply to the High Court. Meanwhile, Moore, although he pleaded guilty, will have to wait until next January to know his fate.(LC)