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Canadian lab technician pleads guilty to drug possession, trafficking

Canadian lab technician  pleads guilty to drug possession, trafficking

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A 51-year-old English-born Canadian citizen was fined EC$50,000 and sentenced to nine months in prison, after pleading guilty to drug possession and trafficking on Wednesday.

Paula Robinson was apprehended on January 21, 2016, after members of the Narcotics Department acted on a tip-off and went to the ET Joshua airport.

Police say that Robinson had already checked in to board Liat flight 560, destined for Barbados, when they observed glue marks around a waist trimmer that she had on. Officers cut away the edges and discovered a transparent bag covered in carbon paper containing the drug.{{more}}

According to them, Robinson claimed that it was powder.

She was charged with fellow Canadian Eron Williams that “on 21 January 2016 at the ET Joshua Airport Arnos Vale in St Vincent and the Grenadines and within the first magisterial district had in their possession a controlled drug to wit 2,082 grams of cocaine for the purpose of Drug Trafficking. Contrary to Section 16(1) of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act, Chapter 284 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines 2009.”

They were also charged for having the drugs in their possession with the intent to supply to another.

Another charge that was laid against the duo was that “between the 6 and 21 of January 2016 [they] did agree with each other that a course of conduct shall be pursued which if the agreement was carried out in accordance or involved the commission of attempt to export.”

They were further charged that between January 6 and 21 2016 they “did agree with each other that a course of conduct shall be pursued which if the agreement was carried out in accordance with their intentions will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of Drug Trafficking. Contrary to section 310(1)(a) of the Criminal Code Chapter 171 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines 2009.”

Robinson was separately charged that she “did attempt to export a controlled drug to wit 2,082 grams of cocaine,” while Williams was charged for possession of three grams of cocaine with intent to supply.

When they reappeared before the court on Tuesday, Robinson only pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and possession of the drug, while Williams only pleaded guilty to possession of three grams of cocaine.

Senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche accepted their guilty pleas and withdrew the charges to which they had pleaded not guilty.

Shortly after, all charges were withdraw against Williams, when police officers failed to present a case file for the three grams of cocaine he was charged for. He left Robinson on the stand to answer to charges of possession of an illegal drug and drug trafficking.

Lawyer Ronald Marks, who represented both Canadians, revealed during mitigtion that Robinson was a mother of six adult children, who also takes care of her own mother.

He further revealed that Robinson’s mother, who lives with her, suffers from dementia and needs constant care.

Marks also stated that since Robinson’s arrest in January, her brother has tried taking care of their mother, but is struggling.

The defense attorney noted that Robinson had also assisted the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and that an investigation would be launched based on her information. He asked that his client not be in the country during these investigations.

According to Marks, Robinson has not told her children why she is still out of the country because she is ashamed and remorseful of her actions, which has affected her appetite, mental state and health.

He noted that Robinson had already spent three and a half weeks on remand before being released on bail and urged the court to bear all of these factors in mind while considering a custodial sentence.

Marks also suggested that a fine would be more appropriate and compared the matter to a recent case where Vincentians were fined in Barbados after being found with liquid cocaine, which he noted has a higher value.

However, Delpesche pointed out that the offence of cocaine and drug trafficking are both very serious.

“The court ought to send a message that is clear that these offences ought to be treated with the utmost seriousness,” he said.

Despite Marks’ mitigating facts, Delpesche recommended a custodial sentence.

Robinson was remanded into custody until the following day, after Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias stated that she needed time to further weigh the mitigating factors and the seriousness of the offence.

She, however, pointed out that the court had noted Robinson’s visible weight loss and that she had assisted prosecution with their investigation.

On Wednesday, Browne-Matthias sentenced Robinson to nine months in prison in relation to drug trafficking charge and fined her $50,000, which was to be paid forthwith, or in default 12 months in prison for having the drugs in her possession.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT shortly after Robinson’s sentence, Marks said the offences would normally attract a sentence of about three or four years; however, the mitigating factors caused the magistrate to reduce the sentence.

Marks said the offence was on the threshold of a custodial or non-custodial sentence, but the fact that Robinson was taking the drugs through the airport was an aggravating feature.

He, however, noted that he would not advise his client to appeal the matter, as the sentence may be increased.

During mitigation, Marks also noted that Robinson is a lab technician in Canada and would be able to pay a fine within one or two weeks.(AS)