Cocaine photos help convict Americans

Photographs of three Americans posing with packages of cocaine helped convict them last week of possessing the illegal drug with intent to supply.

The defendants took the pictures themselves.

Thomas Vincent Watson, 39, Anthony Wayne Watson, 51, and Cindy Jo Hair, 43, heard the guilty verdicts pronounced on Wednesday by Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale.

She adjourned sentencing until 27 September so that Defence Attorneys Ben Tonner and John Furniss could prepare mitigation.

The Watsons, who are brothers, and Hair, who is Thomas’ fiancĂ©e, were arrested on 18 October, 2005, at the condo units where they were staying.

The brothers had come to Cayman to help rebuild the property after it was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Cindy came for a visit on 6, September 2005.

The brothers pleaded guilty to simple possession of 4.5 kilos of cocaine, saying they found it on the beach and were debating how to get rid of it. They pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to supply. They also admitted simple possession of ganja, but were convicted of possession with intent to supply. Cindy pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Cocaine was recovered from Anthony’s apartment and from the apartment Thomas shared with Cindy.

Police found the photographs when they found the drugs. Thomas, the only defendant to give evidence, said he had posed the pictures as skits showing cocaine, ganja, pills and money.

Thomas had said Anthony found packages on the beach and they took them upstairs to their living quarters.

They wondered if it was cocaine and Thomas cooked up two batches of crack, which he called freebase, to test it. He said he knew how to cook it because he had seen a programme on TV a year or two earlier.

Thomas also told the court that Cindy was not involved with the cocaine and she wanted him to get rid of it. He said he had to persuade her to pose with the drug as a souvenir because it wasn’t every day that something like that washed ashore.

The magistrate said the photos spoke volumes. The look on Cindy’s face did not denote displeasure or dissent; it showed pleasure, greed and delight.

Further, Cindy took pictures of Thomas and Anthony gleefully displaying the cocaine. That photo conveyed her encouragement of them, her participation with them.

The photo of Anthony with the drugs showed a man delighted with the find, the magistrate continued. She rejected the assertion that Anthony was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the seriousness of the matter.

Thomas had told the court that the cocaine was found on a Wednesday or Thursday morning and the pictures were taken that evening.

Crown Counsel Kirsti-Ann Gunn, who conducted the case for the Prosecution, never accepted that the cocaine was found on the beach.

But there was nothing inconsistent with finding it and forming an intention to keep it, the magistrate said. There was no credible explanation as to why they did not surrender the cocaine to the police or destroy it. Thomas mentioned fear of police corruption if they turned it in and said they couldn’t put the cocaine back on the beach because there were people around day and night.

The magistrate rejected these assertions. She pointed out that they knew cocaine dissolves in water. They could have put it in the bathtub and disposed of it. She was satisfied they intended to keep it.

The next question was whether they intended to use it themselves or to supply it.

Thomas had said they were not heavy coke users. And along with the cocaine powder, police found a significant amount of crack; the first evidence of dealing is preparation, she said. They also found cupcake cups and small plastic bags, containers used for sale.

The final evidence came from notes kept by Thomas of names and amounts. He said the notes referred to workers and amounts of money owed or borrowed.

The magistrate reminded herself that the notes were relevant only if she rejected any innocent explanation.

She referred to notes of ‘g’ and ‘gr’, which can stand for grams. Thomas maintained that the letters referred to a worker by the name of Jimmy Green. But such entries dated from 2004, while Jimmy Green didn’t arrive in Cayman until June 2005.

Further, whenever Thomas referred to people he capitalised letters. But the g and gr in his notes were common letters.

The magistrate was satisfied that Thomas had lied about his notes. She found other aspects of his evidence to be inconsistent, confusing, incoherent and incomprehensible.

She suggested that the photographs be scanned and made part of the record of the case.

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