Without a thought for the consequences a 20-year-old Canadian student who told her mother she was spending the weekend at a friend’s travelled to New York bound for Barbados with $212,000 worth of cannabis in her possession and was caught.
“I didn’t think that far because it was an act of desperation,” Serena Daniella Gentles, on No 7290 Meyer Drive Malton, Mississauga, Ontario told Magistrate Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell this afternoon.
Gentles who is studying to become a dental office administrator was apprehended at the Grantley Adams International Airport on August 16 after arriving here around 1:08 p.m. from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
In her possession were a dark blue suitcase and a black duffle bag, said Station Sergeant Glenda Carter-Nicholls as she outlined the facts. Contained in that luggage were 47 transparent, vacuum-sealed packages each containing a quantity of vegetable matter suspected to be cannabis. The illicit substance was concealed among bed sheets, pillowcases, boxes of Gain detergent, cat litter and a box purporting to contain an inflatable bed.
“I needed the money to help to pay for my schooling and took the opportunity to bring the drugs to Barbados,” Gentles told police at the time she was being interviewed.
Attorney Kyle Walkes in mitigating on her behalf told the District ‘B’ magistrate that his client was remorseful and regretted committing the act explaining that she did it because of her “desperate financial circumstances”.
Walkes explained that the Canadian woman of Jamaican descent did not have an easy life growing up and had to contribute to the household from an early age getting odd jobs. He said there were times when Gentles and her family headed by a single parent did not have a roof over their heads.
“In spite of that she completed high school and is now in trade school. She is still very naïve which is why perhaps she can be targeted into doing something like that,” the attorney said about the young woman adding that she did not contemplate the consequences that would follow.
Walked submitted that Gentles had thrown herself at the mercy of the court and was entitled to a one third discount for her early guilty plea. He said she had no previous convictions in any jurisdiction nor pending charges.
“Her role in this enterprise was at the very bottom of the scale as a mule. Her reward was US$2,500 which she has not even seen. She is not the organiser . . . she was just cajoled into bringing it into the country,” Walkes said as he urged the magistrate to be as lenient as possible in sentencing his client.
Through questioning, Gentles, who said she had to pay for school out of her own pocket, told Magistrate Smith-Bovell that a friend messaged her and told her she would be given the money to take the drugs here.
“It was my last choice . . . So I said okay I would do so. The person paid for my ticket. I travelled from Canada to New York and collected it at the airport. I had asked for the money but they did not answer [me].
“My mother did not know. I told her I was going to a friend’s house for the weekend and go to school from there,” she said just before the magistrate asked her whether she did not realise she was doing “nonsense” and could be arrested.
“I didn’t think that far because it was an act of desperation. I honestly didn’t think so far,” Gentles said before she was remanded to HMP Dodds until August 22 pending sentencing.