Selling cocaine to an undercover police officer was bad enough, but Shadi Ricketts Welcome did it while he was on bail for another drug charge.
Welcome, also known as Ricky, was sentenced last week to four years imprisonment after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
Defence Attorney Menelik Miller asked Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale to treat Welcome as an addicted person who supplied only enough cocaine to feed his own habit.
Since the incidents in 2005, Welcome successfully completed a rehabilitation programme and could be considered an ideal candidate for probation, Mr. Miller said. The defendant is 28.
The magistrate asked why the matter had taken so long to be resolved. She was told that, because of the undercover aspect of the case, it had taken until last October for the Defence to get the papers in the case.
The magistrate said there was nothing in the file that was evidence of an addiction to cocaine. If a man does not use cocaine, the implication is that he is dealing for profit, she said.
Welcome’s record did show a ganja conviction. But when arrested for the cocaine, he had refused to provide a urine sample for testing.
Normally, there would be something on record or some indication of a lapse in staying clean. ‘I must be careful how I deal with such pleas in mitigation,’ she said. ‘Otherwise I would have everybody come and say ‘I dealt to feed my own addiction.”
Crown Counsel Laura Manson said the first incident occurred on 5 August 2005. Welcome was charged with possession with intent because of the amounts and the way they were packaged – nine pieces individually wrapped and weighing a total of 1.92 grams.
Cash was found totalling CI$200 and US$703.
Welcome was bailed. On 27 August, the undercover officer, who had made Welcome’s acquaintance, went to his house in Old Man Bay to buy $100 worth. The defendant sent someone across the street; when that person returned, the transaction took place.
Mr. Miller told the court that the money found on 5 August was in the defendant’s wife’s purse.
The magistrate said if the wife wanted the money she could come to court and apply for it.
She told Welcome there was no rule that an addict who offends to feed his habit must be dealt with in ways other than custody.
In his case, there was no evidence that Welcome had a cocaine habit, apart from his self-reported addiction. She suggested it was easy to complete a programme if in fact a person is not addicted.
The defendant was in full employment. It seemed to her that he was selling to supplement his income. Even more damning, he continued to supply after he was arrested the first time.
The big man who imports drugs cannot get his goods to the market without street-level dealers, she said. Therefore, sentencing tariffs start at five years.
She said she would give him credit for his guilty pleas and the fact that he had attended a programme, which may have been useful since he was a user of ganja.
She said his sentence should be three years and then five years consecutive because he had continued to deal. Instead, she gave him three years and four years concurrent. A six-moth term for failing to provide a specimen was also concurrent.