Visitor gets jail time for trying to smuggle Vincy weed to Jamaica
A Jamaican who was charged last year for trying to export 30 pounds of cannabis through the airport was found guilty last week, and sent back to prison, where he had been residing, to serve out the rest of a 14-month sentence.
Novian Travis Vaughn Mullings was charged with possession of 13,995 g of cannabis for the purpose of drug trafficking, and attempted export.
During the presentation of final submissions on April 27 at the Serious Offences Court,Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Deplesche said there is no issue that the suitcase tendered into evidence contained cannabis, but the point of contention between the prosecution and defence was who was in possession of the suitcase.
“At one point he (Mullings) is saying he did check in [a suitcase] but it’s not that one, and at another point he is saying that somebody gave him [the suitcase] at his guesthouse in Kingstown,” Delplesche commented.
However, the prosecutor stated that the evidence showed that on July 28, 2019, at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), the defendant did check in a suitcase, and when it was going through a scanner, the security noticed packages inside of it, and raised the alarm.
“…They went and retrieved the suitcase, the suitcase turned out to be in the name of the defendant,” he continued.
“It is submitted your honour that given the law on possession your honour, that is enough, the evidence adduced is enough,” the senior prosecutor, who added that the case was a “very straightforward”.
Mullings was seen on video footage to be pulling along a suitcase, and there is no question about this, the prosecutor stated.
“But he is saying to this court that the suitcase that is now being exhibited, the suitcase that was found in the baggage room, the suitcase that went through the scanner, with his name on it, with his boarding pass number on it, with the drugs in, that is not the one he take to the airport,” Delplesche stated.
He questioned how the court could take that leap, given the “glaring” evidence before it.
Defence attorney Grant Connell said Mullings visited St Vincent for the first time, to see a friend, during which time he stayed for three days at Mesopotamia.
After checking in a suitcase at the AIA, he went to the lounge for a short while, before going through immigration, he stated. After that point he said he was approached by police officers, and taken to security. He was shown a suitcase, but he denied that this was his.
Mullings denied that the contents in the suitcase were his. He claimed that a little dress that was taken out of the suitcase couldn’t have been his, and his daughter wasn’t that small.
Connell said that it was the prosecution’s case to prove whether Mullings had that suitcase when he came to the airport.
The prosecution had tendered video evidence of areas in the airport showing Mullings exiting a taxi and walking to the check in counter.
But Connell said that no evidence, such as identifying marks, was presented to create a nexus between the suitcase Mullings had when he came to the airport and the one he was shown at the airport.
Connell said he found it disturbing that no camera evidence was tendered from beyond the check in counter and public areas at the airport.
“Mr Keith Miller (head of security at AIA), the court must know, was the occupier of the Commissioner of Police chair for many years, knowing the nature of these offences, failed and or refused to present videos,” Connell claimed, saying that it was as if the suitcase vanished into thin air.
Knowing the elements of custody and knowledge needed to prove a case such as this one, the lawyer noted that Miller had an obligation to give access to every camera that could have shown the entire journey of that package.
He noted that from the videos it is also not shown when the tag was placed on the suitcase.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne delivered a guilty verdict to Mullings, who has been in jail since the day he was apprehended at AIA bound for Barbados, intransit to Jamaica.
She sentenced him to one year for possession of the drug, and one year and two months incarceration on the counts of having the marijuana for the purpose of drug trafficking, and attempting to export it.
Mullings has spent approximately nine months in prison so far.