Prison to deter drug lifestyle

After pleading guilty to consumption of cocaine and ganja, possession of cocaine and a utensil, a man with previous drug convictions was sentenced last week to nine months imprisonment.

Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale reviewed the conviction record for Logard Anderson, 45, and studied a probation officer’s report on him. She referred to both in working out his sentence.

The report indicated that Anderson grew up in a Christian home, attended church and had been involved in music.

He told the officer doing the report that he did not need to attend the Caribbean Haven drug programme to deal with his addiction problems; he believed he could do it on his own. He also said he intended to return to church in the future.

‘The time is now,’ the magistrate told Anderson. ‘You know, you get to a certain age, you put down certain things. But yours is a lifestyle choice.’

She reviewed his record, which included a conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to supply. There were other convictions for simple possession – accepted as possession for one’s own use.

The magistrate invited Anderson to tell her what she should take into consideration before deciding on whether to send him to prison. He asked her to ‘give me some community service or something’.

The magistrate again referred to the probation officer’s report. It stated that the defendant continued to remain in denial and refused to address in a serious way the causes of his offending behaviour. The risk of his re-offending remained extremely high, as drug addiction was the root cause.

Further, he had failed to comply with reporting conditions. Given that these are significant aspects of any community-based order, it was unlikely he would comply if such a sentence were passed. The officer was therefore hesitant to recommend a community service order.

The magistrate noted that Anderson’s previous sentences had been as little as 45 days and three months. What was needed, she said, was a deterrent sentence to keep him and others like him from continuing the drug lifestyle.

Sentencing tariffs provide for a term of nine to 12 months for simple possession of cocaine. Anderson had admitted having .182 gram. The magistrate agreed that this was not a large amount, but even in small quantities cocaine ‘is responsible for the destruction of so many of our nation’s young persons,’ she said.

Anderson was advised of his right to appeal.

His offences occurred in May along the main road in Bodden Town, when officers found him in a vehicle with the cocaine and a pipe used for drug consumption.

He pleaded guilty to the four charges during a previous court appearance; his matter was then adjourned for the pre-sentencing report.