A Jamaican-born American citizen, who was caught with $131, 818.16 worth of Cocaine at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA),
has been sentenced to spend the next four years at the Richmond Hill Prison for the offence of “Trafficking (in) a Controlled Drug.”
The sentence was handed down on Monday by Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill, who turned down an application by Taylor’s defense counsel, Attorney-at Law Derrick Sylvester, for a non-custodial sentence to be imposed on his client.
Taylor, a photographer by profession, found himself in trouble with the law on May 15, after 2 black packages containing cocaine, weighing 1.54 pounds and 1.36 pounds, were found in one of his 2 travel bags, during a check of his baggage, as he prepared to board a JetBlue flight to New York.
Police Prosecutor Corporal 764 Boris George told the court that the first time offender, who spent close to 2-weeks on island, displayed “suspicious indicators” during a search of his navy blue bag at the airport.
The illegal drugs were found fitted, with what appears to be contact cement, in the walls of a false compartment at the bottom of the bag.
The mother and aunt of the drug convict flew into the island from New York sometime last week to support him and were present in court when he pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge last week Friday.
Attorney Sylvester called Taylor’s mother as a character witness to testify of the once church going habits and good character of her only child.
The mother pleaded with the court not to send her son off to prison but to allow him to return home in New York.
Attorney Sylvester also argued that his client, who is a first time offender, is “worthy of a certain measure of mercy” and asked the court to consider that he has no previous convictions, is repentant, was not predisposed to this kind of activity and that the drugs were not destined for Grenada.
The criminal defense attorney acknowledged the seriousness of the offence but cited the overcrowded situation at the prison, coupled with the estimated yearly cost of $36, 500, to maintain Taylor there as factors that should be taken into consideration.
He contended that the court should impose a hefty fine, which he indicated that the family was in a position to pay.
Magistrate Gill, who usually hands down custodial sentences for drug offences committed at the airport to serve as a deterrent to others, reserved her decision until Monday morning.
When the matter resumed, the Chief Magistrate decided to hand down a 4-year sentence on Taylor and pointed to the seriousness of the offence and the premeditated manner in which the illegal drugs were packaged at the bottom of his luggage.
The American citizen, who was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, but moved to the United States at the age of 6, faced a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250, 000, or 3 times the value of the illegal substance found in his possession.
With one prison year being equivalent to 8 months, Taylor is expected to spend approximately 2 years and 6 months at the Richmond Hill Prison for the offence.