Cocaine charge nets 8 years

Ronny Alberto Frazier Dilbert, a Honduran national on work permit, was sentenced earlier this month to eight years imprisonment for importing cocaine from Honduras.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said he was taking into account Dilbert’s guilty plea, cooperation and the purity of the drug. He rejected Dilbert’s account of being forced at gunpoint to bring the drug here.

The offence occurred on 9 June, 2008, when Dilbert was 23. In Summary Court shortly afterwards, his attorney summarised an extensive statement Dilbert had given to authorities about the incident: he said his younger brother had been seized by gangsters in Honduras to put pressure on Dilbert to bring the drug.

When the Chief Justice summarised the matter in Grand Court, he said Defence Attorney Philip McGhee acknowledged that alleged threats against Dilbert or his family – if they existed – could not amount to a defence of duress.

Having considered Dilbert’s account of these threats, the judge said he was not satisfied they should be considered as further mitigation of Dilbert’s sentence. This was not only because the account given could have been so easily contrived but also because it was inconsistent with the fact that Dilbert’s airline ticket had been bought for him and sent from someone in Cayman.

The Chief Justice concluded that Dilbert had committed the offence for gain.

He also explained the factor of the drug’s purity. Total weight of the imported substance was 16.8 ounces, 61 per cent pure. The weight of the cocaine itself, therefore, was 10.2 ounces.

This lesser weight did not take the offence out of the scale of sentences for ‘most serious’ but it did reduce it to the lower end of that scale.

With a starting point of 15 years, the judge gave Dilbert credit for co-operation and his guilty plea, although that came just as trial was about to commence. He said courts recognise that many people caught with drugs are couriers, while the worst offenders in the chain of distribution often remained concealed. For that reason, there was substantial discount for offenders who admitted their guilt and were prepared to cooperate with police in their inquiries.