Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill has imposed hefty fines on two Guyanese nationals who were caught by police with cocaine in separate incidents on the island.
The two are Derrick Patterson – a brother of Guyana’s Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson and the other is 71-year old Haniff Bacchus, a retired construction worker of Georgetown.
The 47-year-old Patterson was last week Thursday fined EC$75, 000 for the offence of Cocaine Trafficking and Bacchus was fined $50, 000 for possession of cocaine.
The sentence was handed down on Patterson by the Chief Magistrate after he pleaded guilty to trafficking in 2.325 kilograms of Cocaine.
Patterson, who is employed as a Valuation Surveyor, was apprehended by Members of the Drug Squad of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), just after 9.00 pm on May 2, after the illegal substance was found inside the vehicle he occupied, while at the Umbrella’s Car Park in Morne Rouge, Grand Anse.
Police recovered the drugs, which carries an estimated street value of $232, 500.00 inside a plastic bag on the floor, in front of the left front passenger seat of a vehicle registration number PAD981, which the Guyanese man rented for use while on island.
Guyanese Attorney-at-Law Darshan Ramdhanny, who represented the suspect, urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence because Patterson had expressed considerable remorse for engaging in such a “stupid act.”
Attorney Ramdhanny informed the court that the accused who were imprisoned for close to 1-month is an outstanding member of the Guyanese society, as well as the owner and manager of a construction firm, a security firm and Chairman of the Board of Directors of a prominent Church in the South American country.
“He is a man of positive good character (and) he realises that he has done perhaps the silliest thing in his life,” the attorney told the Chief Magistrate as he pleaded his client’s case.
The lawyer also pointed to Patterson’s previous clean police record in making a plea on his behalf.
Information revealed at last week’s sentence hearing indicated that the father of 4, received US$1, 000 from another individual to collect the illegal substance from another individual on the island.
“His task was to collect the substance from another individual, park the car and leave it open so that the other individual could come and collect it,” Attorney Ramdhanny told the court as he outlined the degree of his client’s culpability in the case.
The police swooped down on Patterson, while he sat in the rental at the Umbrella’s car park, waiting for the individual to pick up the cocaine.
The court held the view that persons caught with large quantities of drugs should be sent to prison as a penalty.
However, Chief Magistrate Gill considered the application put before her by the seasoned attorney and imposed a non-custodial sentence to be paid forthwith and in default serve 3 years imprisonment.
In addition to the US$1, 000, which he was allegedly paid to make the transaction, US$900.00 was also found in the possession of Patterson.
The Chief Magistrate also ordered all the monies found on the convicted man be forfeited to the state.
Patterson reportedly came to Grenada for a short visit accompanied by 2 of his friends and was due to depart on May 4, some 2 days after he was caught with the cocaine.
In the case of Bacchus, he was caught trying to leave the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) at Point Salines with the illegal drugs.
The fine that was imposed on him by the Chief Magistrate meant that he escaped a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment and or a fine of 3 times the value of the EC$342, 727.23 worth of cocaine that was found in his possession.
The retired Construction Worker was slapped with a Drug Trafficking charge after he was nabbed at the airport with 3 kilograms of cocaine on May 5.
At his sentence hearing last week Thursday, the fine of $50, 000 was imposed on him by Chief Magistrate Gill and he was still held at the Richmond Hill as the money was not paid.
The elderly man, who has restricted mobility and uses a wheelchair to navigate around, pleaded guilty to the cocaine offence on May 18.
Assisting him in the matter was Attorney-at-Law Derrick Sylvester, who advanced an interesting argument before the court that based on Bacchus’ multiplicity of medical complaints, ranging from HIV to Diabetes and even severe heart complications, he should be considered for a light sentence.
The attorney went through the medical records of the elderly man, who has been living with HIV virus for the last 10 years and urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence, noting that a sentence of imprisonment could prove to be very challenging for the staff at the Richmond Hill Prison.
Attorney Sylvester cited several points of law including section “5-131, Sentences and Orders on Conviction (of the) ARCHBOLD CRIMINAL PLEADING EVIDENCE AND PRACTICE (2012), SWEET & MAXWELL, THOMPSON REUTERS,” which states that “an offender’s serious medical condition may enable a court, as an act of mercy in the exceptional circumstances of a particular case rather than by virtue of any general principle, to impose a lesser sentence than would otherwise be appropriate.”
To support his argument, the criminal defense attorney called to the stand, Officer in Charge of Operations at the Richmond Hill Prison, Superintendent Rupert Neckles to give testimony about the challenges that were already being faced at the prison.
According to the prison officer, inmates had to assist the 71-year-old to move around the facility, as well as to and from the holding cell, which was assigned to him.
Additionally, the prison officer said, based on Bacchus’ medical condition, he had to be transported to the St. George’s General Hospital twice for treatment since he was placed on remand at the institution by the court.
“The medical staff at the prison foresee some serious challenges if the Guyanese national was to stay there,” the head of prison operations told the court.
Attorney Sylvester acknowledged that a case like this one would normally attract a custodial sentence but based on the peculiar circumstances urged the court to allow Bacchus to pay a fine and not spend the rest of his twilight years behind bars.
The Chief Magistrate eventually imposed the fine to be paid forthwith, with a default sentence of 3 years imprisonment.
She also expressed appreciation to Attorney Sylvester for his well-researched submissions.
Bacchus, who was vacationing on the island found himself in trouble with the law, after a detailed search of his Jet 3 ultra powered wheelchair revealed a false 8 x 12 inch compartment, where the illegal drugs was found individually wrapped in 4 rectangular packages.
The individual packages weighed 2.55, 2.56, 1.18 and 1.21 lbs, respectively.
According to the evidence presented to the court, police began to suspect the senior citizen when he insisted that he must be allowed to board the plane with his special wheelchair instead of the regular wheelchair, which he was given after he was informed that he would have to check his power chair in as a piece of luggage as he could not board the aircraft with it.
Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that at the time of his arrest, Bacchus, who came from England and stayed on the island for approximately 3 days, was preparing to board an Air Canada flight number AC1733, outbound to Canada to visit family members.