An Englishman and Bermudan who were in possession of a “considerable ” quantity of marijuana in Barbados’ territorial waters almost two years ago have been sentenced to spend time behind bars at HMP Dodds.
However, the Englishman 53-year-old Paul Andrew Bell, will serve more time at the St Philip penal institution than his accomplice 47-year-old Shawn Antwoine Simmons, as he played a “principal role” in the transporting of the illegal substance, which weighed 77 kilogrammes and had an open market value of $338,800.
Bell was intercepted on a dinghy about 2.5 nautical miles off Mullins Beach, St Peter while Simmons, a Bermuda national who resided in England since 2013, was caught on the yacht Wanderers Dream not far way around 1 a.m. on July 2, 2017.
Following a search of the dinghy personnel from the Drug Squad, the Police Marine Unit and the Barbados Coast Guard found three black bags containing cannabis. The two vessels were towed to land and it was there that Bell under questioning by police revealed that he was the owner of the yacht and dinghy.
He told lawmen that he left Bermuda at the end of May 2017 headed for St Marteen for boat repairs. While there two men approached him and asked whether he would like to make some money by transporting cocaine to Barbados. He refused that offer but consented to transport 200 pounds of weed to Barbados for US$10,000.
Bell said he was then given coordinates for a GPS navigational system and set his course for Bridgetown with one stop. He explained that when he got a couple miles off Grenada he and Simmons were met with some men on a number of boats who handed over the bags of marijuana which they stored near the bow and the stern.
When the duo arrived near Barbados they transferred the bags to the dinghy and Bell began his journey to shore. However, on seeing police he said he threw a cellular phone that he was carrying into the sea as it contained the contact information for the persons who were to receive the drugs.
The two were each charged with possession, possession with intent to traffic and importation of cannabis. They both pleaded guilty to the offences in October 2018, Crown Counsel Neville Watson said when he previously outlined the facts of the case.
Bell told probation officials he committed the crime for financial gain while Simmons who met Paul in 2014 and became fast friends due to their love of sailing said he was an “unwilling participant” and his involvement was as a result of “a betrayal of trust”.
In handing down the sentence in the No. 5 Supreme Court today Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius pointed to the aggravating factors of the case saying the quantity of drugs involved was a “considerable amount” and the evidence showed a measure of sophistication and pre-planning in getting it from one country to the next. She also chastised Bell for “protecting the drug dealers” by throwing the cellular phone overboard.
There were also mitigating factors but the judge made it clear that the crime warranted a custodial sentence.
In Bell’s case Justice Cornelius had settled on a starting point of 12 years in prison but in taking the mitigating and aggravating factors into consideration she made a downward adjustment by three years. A one-third discount was also applied for his guilty plea and his time spent on remand – 586 days – were also taken into account leaving Bell with four years, four months and three weeks left to serve in prison.
Simmons, meanwhile, who the judge described as “a subordinate actor” had a starting sentence of nine years in prison. Cornelius then also reduced that period by three years based on his mitigating and aggravating factors as well as a one-third discount for his guilty plea. Taking into consideration the 586 days already spent on remand Simmons now has only two years, four months and three weeks left to serve on his sentence.
The sentences were imposed on the possession charge.
Bell who was represented by attorney-at-law Steve Gollop and Simmons who had Dr Lenda Blackman as his legal counsel were convicted reprimanded and discharged on the importation and trafficking charges.