Despite arguments by two Queen’s Counsel of his strong ties to the community, his status as a family man and an employer of over a dozen persons, a 56-year-old businessman accused of importing over $10 million in drugs was still remanded to Dodds prison today.
The drug bust — valued at $10,185,315 million — ranks as one of the largest in recent times.
As a result of a search of a container shipped to a business in St John, officers from Customs Enforcement Division, the Police Drug Squad and Canine Division and the Barbados Coast Guard, discovered 1028.4 kilogrammes and 22.7 kilogrammes of a substance, suspected to be cocaine, a release from the Royal Barbados Police Force stated.
George Reginald Ivan Parris, of No. 318 Inch Cape Terrace, Well House, St Philip was charged with eight offences of possession, possession with intent to supply, possession with intent to traffic cannabis and “suspected” cocaine on February 14 as well as importation of cannabis and cocaine between February 5 and 6. He was not required to plead to the indictable charges.
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch this morning in the District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court, Sergeant Vernon Waithe objected to bail being granted to Parris on several grounds. The prosecutor pointed to the nature and seriousness of the offences, as well as the quantum of the illegal substance involved.
“Evidence in this matter is strong. It’s a strong case against the accused. There are also fears that if granted bail he may not return to court to answer to the charges,” said Sergeant Waithe in his submissions against bail.
However, attorneys Michael Lashley, Q.C. and Hal Gollop, Q.C., appearing along with Dayna Taylor-Lavine and Kadisha Wickham, stated that the accused, who is the owner of Ace Recycling and R&R Iron Works, was an “excellent” candidate for bail and a “responsible” individual who had been a businessman in the recycling industry for the past 17 years.
“He has 13 employees . . . and on a good day . . . that number can be up as much as 25. If placed on remand . . . [it can result] in workers going on the breadline . . . and his business could fold . . . . He is a family man and cooperated with the police,” said Lashley who also took “strong objections” to the prosecutor considering his client a flight risk saying conditions such as reporting to a police station could be imposed.
Lashley used the delay in the justice system in getting matters to trial in a timely matter in his bail submission saying that this case will not be heard within the next two to three years.
“My client is an excellent candidate for bail . . . and willing to accept any conditions you set him,” Lashley told the chief magistrate.
“He has surrendered his passport to the court showing that he is willing to adhere to any condition. He did that before you asked. He is a man of respect in the community. Who will suffer if remanded? His wife, his family, his business; 13 people and sometimes 25 are about to be placed on the breadline when jobs are so hard to find,” said Lashley before he gave way to senior Queen’s Counsel Gollop who touched on some of the points by Lashley as well as others.
“The prosecutor said ‘suspected cocaine’. You can’t have suspected cocaine. Could you imagine what that could mean if you took it to some absurd level . . .[It] raises the issue of serious analytical evidence being brought on this matter. The inability of the prosecutor to say cocaine in my view is another reason why the most favourable consideration should be given to this accused to defend the assault on his good character and his good name,” Gollop stated.
He also made reference to other cases now before other magistrates’ courts in which other businessmen with similar charges were granted bail.
“The law is about precedence. Recently a large portion of drugs . . . those persons were found on the vessel . . . [in my client’s case] a container came from one place to another place, he was not on the vessel [the container]. I am submitting that this is a better reason why bail should be granted,” Gollop submitted.
At the end of the 45-minute sitting however which was attended by Parris’ family, Chief Magistrate Birch ruled in favour of the prosecution.
“Excellent . . . submissions by your counsels, but at this point I am not prepared to offer you bail,” the judicial officer stated before giving Parris a March 19 date for his next court appearance.
Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that Parris’ legal team will file papers for bail application before the High Court as early as tomorrow.