Efforts to make “quick money” by illegal means resulted in a huge fine for a 24-year-old man who is facing two years in prison if the amount is not paid.
Nico Shaquille Ward, of No. 1 College Savannah, St John has one year to pay the District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court $50,000 after he pleaded guilty to drugs charges.
Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch imposed the hefty penalty after Ward admitted to possession, possession with intent to supply, possession with intent to traffic and cultivation of 75 pounds of cannabis.
It took police just five days to haul Ward before the court after he ran away after being spotted in a marijuana plot in his community.
A second man, 28-year-old Marko Matthews Roberts, of Lower Burney, St Michael who first appeared in the same court on Friday and spent the weekend on remand at Doods was sentenced yesterday in connection with the same offences. He too must pay $50,000 within the same stipulated time or face jail for two years.
Prosecutor Station Sergeant Peter Barrow told the court that police were conducting operations in Ward’s community on April 11 when they observed him and Roberts pulling weeds from among cannabis plants. As they drew near Ward ran off and escaped into a bushy area while Roberts was apprehended.
A further search of the vicinity resulted in the discovery of three more marijuana plots with a total of 463 plants ranging from one to two feet in height.
Police intensified their search, which took them to My Lords Hill, St Michael where Ward was arrested. He was detained and questioned about the drug and admitted that he was present on the day of the discovery.
“I wasn’t the one who started it . . . I was trying, looking around for work and little ways to make money . . . there wasn’t another way . . . it get brought over to me that I could make a fast dollar . . . so I was wetting the vegetables and the cannabis and that was all . . . I was just trying to make quick money,” the first time offender told the Chief Magistrate this afternoon.
Birch informed him that he could have planted a crop which was not illegal and make the money needed from eddoes, dasheen and cane “[but] this is what you chose to do . . . .You did something stupid!”
Magistrate Birch also informed Ward, who revealed that the he was the father of a four-year-old, that the illegal substance was being sold to children as young as 12 years old.
Ward admitted that he would not be at all happy if his child was sold the drug.
Birch responded: “But yet you are growing weed that is going to be sold to people as young as 12. Imagine you won’t be happy that someone does it to your child but you are engaging in activity that could be sold to someone else’s because you are making a fast dollar.”
The magistrate then convicted, reprimanded and discharged him on the possession charge and reprimanded and discharged him on the supply offence. On the trafficking charge Ward must pay $30, 000 and $20,000 on the cultivating offence. The money must be paid in one year.
“You have a year to find gainful and honest employment to pay this money. Make better choices,” the Chief Magistrate told Ward.
Yesterday Roberts was sentenced and must pay $25,000 on the trafficking charge and the other $25, 000 on the cultivation charge.