British national, Curtis Collins will spend the next three years of his life behind bars at the Richmond Hill Prison following a cocaine conviction.
The 59-year old man was arrested on June 16 at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) and charged with trafficking approximately 1.1 kilos of cocaine.
The jail sentence was handed down on Tuesday by Her Honour Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill, who presides over the No. 1 Magistrate’s Court in St. George’s.
Collins found himself on the wrong side of the law after the illegal substance, which carries a street value of $110, 000 was found in his possession at the checking area at the airport.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the illegal drugs were confiscated from inside the back of 3 wooden picture frames in his suitcase in an orange plastic bag, wrapped up with carbon paper, and sealed with clear plastic wrap.
When he was arrested, Collins had just concluded a visit with his ailing aunt on the sister isle of Carriacou and was preparing to board the afternoon British Airways flight #2158 to fly back to Britain.
The accused was originally charged with possession and trafficking of a controlled drug, but the possession charge was dismissed by the court for want of prosecution.
At his first court appearance on June 19, Collins pleaded guilty to the offence of trafficking and was asked to come back to court for sentencing on June 23.
However, this did not happen due to certain statements made in relation to his guilty plea in the absence of his attorney, Anselm Clouden.
Collins had sought to convince the court on his first appearance that he was an innocent man and that the package found in the suitcase was given to him by someone to take back to England as a favour for another individual.
He told the Chief Magistrate that he was unaware that the illegal substance was cocaine.
Collins also said that he only pleaded guilty on the advice of his lawyer, because he wanted the case to be over with so that he can return home.
The Chief Magistrate expressed grave concern with this statement and wanted to set a date for the commencement of a trial.
However, she opted to give Collins additional time to consult with his lawyer before going forward with the case.
When the matter was heard on Tuesday, Attorney Clouden informed the Chief Magistrate of his decision to withdraw from the case.
The court accepted the attorney’s position and Collins proceeded with the sentence hearing by himself.
Chief Magistrate Gill indicated that she was willing to impose a non-custodial sentence, providing that Collins was in a position to pay the fine.
She also made every effort to ensure that the unrepresented man understood what was taking place during the proceedings.
Collins told the court that he was not in a position to pay a substantive fine and was given instead a custodial sentence of 3 years behind bars for the offence.