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South Rivers man ordered to pay $12,000 for drugs

South Rivers man  ordered to pay $12,000 for drugs
Carey DeFreitas

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A South Rivers man has escaped a prison sentence for possession of 24 pounds of marijuana, but instead, he must pay $12,000 to the state by the end of October.

Carey DeFreitas, 35 years old, was nabbed in possession of 10,896 g of cannabis in March, but at that time he and his co-accused said they were not guilty of the crime.

Matters changed last Friday when DeFreitas entered a guilty plea. His guilty plea was accepted while charges against Kelron James, Shamar Baptiste and Kellisha Toney were eventually withdrawn.

His former co-accused were free to leave the courtroom, while DeFreitas had to face sentencing.

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne was informed that on March 26, at approximately 4:45 am, Corporal 192 Douglas Caesar was among a party of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) officers who went to DeFreitas’ home. The RRU officers, acting on information received, were charged with executing a search warrant for firearms and ammunition.

They met the all four of the individuals previously charged at DeFreitas’ home. They searched, and in a room in the upstairs of the house found several marijuana plants drying in a line. The four told Caesar that they did not have knowledge of the plants.

Lawyer Grant Connell, who has represented the four from the inception, told the court that his client is a father of two, and is a labourer of South Rivers, although presently unemployed.

The drug was merely being held by DeFreitas and not meant to have any financial gain to him, he submitted.

He wanted the court to consider a fine and give the defendant time to pay it.

However, the magistrate contemplated that her trouble with the submissions was that she didn’t want to hang a metaphorical noose around DeFreitas’ neck.

DeFreitas indicated to his lawyer that given the circumstances he would be able to find “something.” Connell added that the court must be mindful of the time that we are in, presumably referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After standing the matter down a short while, Browne recalled DeFreitas to the dock to deliver her sentence.

She noted that she could impose a fine that was up to three times the value of the drug.

The magistrate arrived at a fine of $16,000. Sentences are usually reduced by one third if an offender pleads ‘guilty’ but Browne decided that since DeFreitas’ admission did not come at the earliest opportunity, a reduction of one quarter was applicable.

Therefore, if the South Rivers resident does not pay $12,000 by October 30, he will face eight months of incarceration.

Connell rose to make the point that the substance found by the police was “only” tested in May and that if it had tested as “breadfruit bush” then his client would have walked free then.

However, the magistrate told the defense lawyer that he knew well the position of the Supreme Court is to operate from the moment the guilty plea is taken. She also noted that he knows that her approach is not usually to apply a fine three times the value of the substance by default.

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