Mercy pleas of a police prosecutor-turned-defence barrister are all that stand in the way of a 17-year-old high school student gaining a criminal conviction ahead of CXC certificates after fellow students were caught smoking cannabis at school.
Attorney-at-law Neville Reid today urged a Bridgetown magistrate to intervene after the teen was caught yesterday with 23 grammes of the herb in his school bag and an apparatus to weigh the drug.
The first-time offender was called to the principal’s office after five students from first, second and third form were caught smoking marijuana on the school’s compound, with two scissors and a knife in their possession. They revealed that the teen was their supplier.
The police were called and when the boy, who is not known to the law courts, was asked to account for the cannabis he initially said he found it outside the school, according to Sargeant Edwin Pinder, the prosecutor.
He was told that this was the second time that he had given such an excuse when found in possession of the illicit drug.
But the boy’s lawyer questioned why the necessary steps where not taken after the first incident to help the teen who is in the process of writing his CXC exams.
“It is not a pretty picture if this is the second time he was found with drugs. Why were steps not taken to stop him from going down that path?” Reid, a former station sergeant, queried.
The defence attorney then informed Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant that the student was “doing pretty well in school” and currently resided with his 74-year-old grandmother having lost his mother five years ago. He further submitted that the elderly caretaker was “shocked” at the charge, as the teen was “not known to give any trouble”.
“Some intervention [such as] counselling is needed from the Probation Department . . . . The scissors and the knife were not found in his possession . . . but he has taken responsibility for the drugs.
“I believe, Ma’am, that this is one of the cases that the court could intervene and save him from a life of crime and from going down the wrong path. The fact that he is still in school at 17 years old [pursuing] his CXCs shows that all is not lost. I believe that he can benefit from counselling . . . I believe the circumstances need to be fully investigated [in the form] of a pre-sentencing report,” the attorney added.
The magistrate agreed to the probation report and granted bail to the student who pleaded guilty to charges of possession, trafficking and intent to supply.
He will know his fate when he returns before the No. 2 District ‘A’ Magistrate’s Court on February 8.