Elron Adrian Gill was given a lesson about prison life earlier today while he was in the District ‘C’ Magistrates Court dock next to four other accused men.
The 19-year-old Congo Road, St Philip resident had just pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana in a cemetery, along with three other drug-related charges of possession, trafficking and intent to supply 2.5 kilogrammes of the drug.
He appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch, who chastised him for his actions for a considerable length of time.
“Of all places, a cemetery? A place where the souls of the dearly departed are to rest?” asked the acting chief magistrate.
“It was not my one, Sir,” Gill replied.
When he was asked why he had committed the offences, Gill explained that his father was 85-years-old and his mother’s job does not pay well.
It was his love for farming that made him go after an opportunity to buy some animals. He said he was “trying hard to raise the money” and he eventually planted the marijuana to sell, so he could then purchase the animals with the funds.
The court heard that Gill was a student who was skilled in agriculture and had passed every subject at the institution he currently attends, except accounts, which he is re-taking.
Birch then chided him again for having the chance to make something of himself, misusing his opportunities, and probably embarrassing his family in the process.
The Acting Chief Magistrate then asked the other prisoners in the dock to tell young Gill a little about prison.
“It hard Sir, it harsh,” the first one said.
“Prison hard,” the second one reiterated.
“Even in the remand section?” the magistrate asked, “Why?”
“Yes, Sir. Your freedom is taken away,” he explained.
A third one, who raised his hand and seemed anxious to speak, told newly-convicted Gill, “Don’t come”.
He went on to explain that he is a psychiatric patient who gets “five scoops of food – he does get three”, he said, pointing to the prisoner beside him.
“I does get four breads a day and he does get two, but it ain’t mek no sense cause jail still hard. I rather the mental, or home, or Verdun House,” he explained, as he referred to fights between inmates.
Birch thanked them for enlightening Gill, before determining that “after all those speeches, the best experience a man can have is his own”.
Gill was then remanded to HMP Dodds and will return to court on Friday.
“You go and sit inside and reflect until Friday when we will talk again. And ask yourself how a man of your experience and intellect, who had the opportunities that you had, could be so disrespectful to the dead?”
Acting on information, police went to the Bushy Park Cemetery, St Philip on Saturday, where they saw a large number of cannabis plants growing in a bushy area.
The prosecutor, Sergeant Azel Skeete, said police kept the area under surveillance and just after 5 p.m., Gill entered the graveyard and began tending the plants.
When police officers went to him and identified themselves, Gill dashed across an open pasture and on to the main road. The lawmen gave chase and caught him at Congo Road.
When they searched his haversack, they discovered two spliffs, a cutlass and a scissors with marijuana residue on it.
Police took Gill back to the area at Bushy Park, where he admitted his intention to sell the marijuana.