Seven years for street level cocaine

Mark Travis Seymour, 32, was sentenced last week to seven years imprisonment after being found guilty of possessing almost an ounce of cocaine with intent to supply.

Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale said the usual sentence for street-level dealing in cocaine is four to five years. But Seymour was not a first offender – he had previous convictions for the same offence.

Defence Attorney Edward Renvoize pointed out that those earlier offences involved small amounts — less than a gram. There were three such offences and all were dealt with on the same date.

In delivering her verdict, the magistrate summarised the evidence. A police officer saw Seymour outside a George Town bar during the day on 1 December 2006. He became suspicious and stopped the car he was driving. Seymour ran.

Other officers gave chase on foot. There was a struggle on the ground between them and Seymour. During the struggle a package fell on the ground. At the police station Seymour was searched and another package was recovered from him.

The two packages were analysed and found to contain 26.8 grams of cocaine – just short of an ounce, which is 28.3 grams.

Defence Attorney Edward Renvoize argued that the officers had used excessive force against Seymour.

The magistrate found no merit in that argument. One of the officers involved in the chase said Seymour lost his balance as he was rounding a corner and fell face first, with injuries resulting. The officer caught up with him, identified himself and requested the search. Seymour refused and the struggle ensued.

Both officers agreed that, if people came upon the scene after Seymour fell they might think the officers were beating him. The magistrate found that Seymour did struggle violently, no doubt hoping to get rid of the drugs in his possession.

She found him guilty of possessing the drugs and resisting a lawful search. Mr. Renvoize asked her to accept that Seymour was a drug user, which made his a standard case of a user supplying in order to feed his own habit.

The magistrate said that was an easy assertion to make in order to get a lower sentence. A urine analysis after his arrest did not show the presence of cocaine, although the sample was not requested until three days later.

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