Substituted urine puts man in jail

Percival Anthony Williams Jr. will serve six months in prison for providing someone else’s urine for drug screening.

Williams, 21, was sentenced on Monday after entering his guilty to the offence last year. He admitted handing in the substitute sample to the lab at the George Town Hospital

The Drug Rehabilitation Court required the sample.

Magistrate Nova Hall said the Drug Rehab Court had been set up to attack the source of offending behaviour.

Honesty is the cornerstone of that court, she pointed out – both locally and worldwide. Constant and random testing is an integral part of the programme. Persons who seek to circumvent the test do considerable damage to themselves and the programme, the magistrate said.

She considered nine months to be the starting point, and then gave Williams one-third credit for his guilty plea to arrive at six months.

Counsel Tanya Lobban said police received a report from the Health Services Authority 13 June, 2008, about what to be inappropriate activity involving an employee and a client. The incident occurred on 6 June.

The employee was arrested the following week. She gave a voluntary caution statement and made full admissions. She said Williams asked her for a specimen of her urine and she provided it. It was rejected at the lab because of the temperature, so he went back to her and asked for another specimen, which she again provided. Williams was then arrested.

Ms Lobban noted that, after the first sample was rejected, Williams had been asked to sit in the waiting room and drink more water before providing another specimen. He said he would wait outside, but then went to where his cousin worked and asked her again.

Defence Attorney John Furniss said it was in Williams’ favour that he admitted his offence and accepted responsibility. Williams had been worried about his position in the Drug Rehab Court because he had tested positive before.

He spoke to his cousin, who was a medical assistant at the hospital, and she suggested he get a home test kit from Foster’s Food Fair. The kit showed Williams’ result as borderline.

Mr. Furniss, who serves as legal advisor to unrepresented participants in the programme, said Williams should have realised that if he came to court and admitted what happened, he could have asked for another week to show a clean result.

Instead, he asked his cousin to give him a specimen he could submit to the hospital lab.

Mr. Furniss revealed it was the business with the home test kit that other hospital employees saw and reported.

He pointed out that Williams spent five weeks in custody after his arrest and was expelled from the Drug Rehab Court. Since that experience, he had got himself back on track. He had a steady job and was in a committed relationship.

In passing sentence, the magistrate considered the charges that put Williams in the Drug Rehab Court to begin with. They included possession of 24.9 grams of ganja, possession of a utensil and consumption. She imposed concurrent sentences for these.

The magistrate also noted that the nine-month starting point was the same she had used in sentencing Williams’ cousin in December.

She gave the woman one-third discount for her guilty plea and one-third for her co-operation.

The court was advised that the woman had lost her job at the hospital. Then, when the matter became public (Caymanian Compass, 29 September) she lost a second job. Her subsequent sentence of three months imprisonment, suspended for two years, took those facts into account.

The magistrate commented that the woman had possibly thrown away a career she had spent so much time and effort preparing for.

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