2 of 8 guilty in EE ganja case

Two years after several thousand pounds of ganja was discovered in East End, persons charged in connection with it had verdicts handed down in Summary Court.

Of the eight men originally charged, Magistrate Nova Hall found two guilty. Her detailed judgment was delivered on Wednesday.

The magistrate set out the evidence against each defendant, then analysed it to show how she came to her verdicts.

Assad Adana Walker and Earl Reeves McLaughlin were found guilty. They were scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, 29 August.

Walker, a Jamaican national, was aboard the vessel that police boarded in the early hours of 25 July 2003 after a chase and the firing of shots.

According to Walker’s police interview, the vessel had arrived in Cayman waters off East End around 7.45 the evening before and the ganja was offloaded in two trips. The vessel was waiting for fuel to be supplied so it could leave.

McLaughlin was found lying on the ground near a container in an isolated area of East End on the night of 24 July. Items in his possession included a walkie-talkie, pliers and screws.

He said he had been told to watch the container but had no idea of its contents.

Evidence showed that when officers opened the container it appeared empty. A false panel had to be removed before the contents could be seen. However, police said, the container had a strong scent of ganja.

The magistrate said McLaughlin was performing the role of a watchman and assisting the person who had possession of the container. He was not watching a home or a building site, the magistrate pointed out.

Everything about the container and the circumstances surrounding it should have put him on notice about the nature of its contents, she indicated. ‘Mr. McLaughlin cannot benefit from any wilful blindness to the reality of that which he was watching,’ she said.

The other six defendants were accused of playing various roles in the scheme to import the drugs and conceal them in the High Rock area of East End.

Those acquitted were Carlos Renton Russell, represented by Howard Hamilton QC, instructed by Attorney Keith Collins; Steve Wayne Ebanks, represented by Attorney John Furniss; Quentin W. Ebanks, represented by Attorney Morris Garcia; and Joel Robert Johnson, who was tried in his absence and without a lawyer.

In April, at the close of the Prosecution’s case, the magistrate agreed with Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey’s submission that there was no case to answer for Marvin Johnson and he was discharged.

In the case of the eighth defendant, Heron D. Lindsay, the magistrate excluded his interview as evidence. Crown Counsel Gail Johnson offered no other evidence and he was discharged. Lindsay, a Jamaican national, was aboard the vessel chased by police.