A 38-year-old Bajan female entertainer, who is among a trio charged in connection with $625,000 worth of cocaine, will have to spend the next two days behind bars.
Former Richard Stoute Teen Talent winner Betty Griffith-Payne, of Apartment No. 8, West Terrace Heights, St James, is jointly charged with her 35-year-old sister Marie Griffith, of Phillips Road, Cleaves Hill, St Joseph, and 34-year-old Guyanese national Kwanza Canterbury with possession, possession with intent to supply, trafficking and conspiracy to traffic 12 kilos of the illegal substance, sometime between November 7
The two sisters are also jointly charged with knowingly handling the illicit substance during that same period.
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch in the District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court, the trio was not required to plead to the indictable offences.
When it came time for bail, prosecutor Station Sergeant Peter Barrow objected based on the seriousness of the offence, the nature of the evidence and the fact that other persons were also being sought in connection with the matter. He also submitted that it was the Crown’s fear that the accused persons may interfere with the ongoing investigation if granted bail.
Informing the Chief Magistrate that the cocaine weighed 12.6 kilos, Barrow argued that society must also be protected.
“What if this drug had gotten into the community, [imagine] the damaging effect it could have caused,” he submitted.
However, Griffth-Payne’s attorneys Marlon Gordon and Harry Husbands countered the prosecutor’s objections saying the charges before the court were mere allegations.
Gordon argued that his client was a born and bred Barbadian who has nowhere else to go and also has a strong support system. He said the entertainer was prepared to surrender her passport and adhere to any other conditions imposed by the court. Gordon further submitted the clerical officer was a first time offender and had denied the allegations.
“My client is so broken, she has not slept for the last three days,” he said, arguing that she was a fit and proper candidate for bail.
It was a similar submission made by attorney Naomi Lynton who appeared in association with Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim on Griffith’s behalf.
She argued that at this time there was a presumption of innocence. She also submitted that the mother of four was one of the main breadwinners in her family.
“Anytime on remand would devastate Griffith and her family as well,” Lynton said, pointing out that her client had no previous convictions and no pending court matters.
The three were remanded until November 16 when they are due to appear in the District ‘E’ Magistrates’ Court.
In the meantime, Canterbury pleaded guilty to possession, possession with intent to supply and trafficking of one kilo of cannabis, valued at $8,000.
This after he was pulled by police at the junction of St Mary’s Row and Mason Hall Street. Lawmen requested a search of the vehicle after informing him that they had received information that he was transporting illegal drugs.
A black and brown package was found and examined in his presence with a brown substance suspected to be cannabis.
“That’s just a lil hashish I bring for somebody officer. I was to just drop it off,” Canterbury told the officers when asked to account for the drugs.
Mohia Ma’at, who is Canterbury’s legal counsel, informed the court that the carpenter was currently in the country on a work permit. It was also revealed that Canterbury had a fixed place to stay and was not known in this jurisdiction. He further submitted that the Guyanese man’s early guilty plea was indicative of his remorse and asked for
“justice [to be tempered] with mercy in this matter”.
However, the Chief Magistrate described as “disturbing” Canterbury’s response to officers when he was caught with the substance.
“The hashish form is one used for narcotics . . . . Furthermore you are a guest here and it is disturbing and saddening when a guest abuses the hospitality of his neighbours,” Birch said before imposing a $10,000 forthwith fine on him for being in possession of the illegal drug.
Canterbury, who was reprimanded and discharged on the supply and trafficking charges, was however unable to pay the money and will therefore spend six months in jail.