Two men who were involved in trafficking 177 kilogrammes of cannabis into the island 12 years ago have been slapped with hefty fines.
Julian Anthony Wilson of 7th Avenue New Orleans, St Michael and Conan Ashby of Bournes Village, St George, have to pay $25 000 and $20 000, respectively, for the crime they committed on September 5, 2011.
Of the amounts, Wilson had to pay $5 000 forthwith while Ashby had to hand over $10 000 immediately. The men now have 12 months to settle their balances. If not paid, Wilson will spend three years at Dodds, while Ashby will be imprisoned for two years.
They were convicted, reprimanded and discharged for the offences of possession and importation.
Madam Justice Pamela Beckles, in handing down the sentences in Supreme Court No. 5 on Thursday, pointed to the aggravating factors of the case, namely the nature and gravity of the offences; the large amount of drugs seized, which she said suggested was to generate illegal profit; and the prevalence of these types of offences in society.
Taking that into consideration as well as the fact that no violence was used in carrying out the crime, the judge imposed a starting sentence of seven years in prison.
Justice Beckles then gave the men a 15 per cent discount for their guilty pleas that came after three state witnesses had given evidence. She also took into consideration their expressions of remorse, the time they spent on remand, and the 12-year delay in the matter being brought to trial.
The judge also took into account several personal factors that resulted in Wilson’s sentence being adjusted downwards by two years and Ashby’s by three years.
“I have been persuaded by the submissions made by counsel for the state and the defence that a substantial fine would be appropriate in the circumstances and that would meet the interest of justice,” Justice Beckles said.
The two were apprehended when police got information about a drug landing at Fitts Village, St James and found the men hauling a total of seven bags from the sea onto the beach.
Wilson and Ashby were represented by Senior Counsels Andrew Pilgrim and Arthur Holder, respectively.
The drug traffickers will return to court on April 30 for a review.