Importation charge nets five+ years

After insisting on
being sentenced, Dencel Vic Barnes received
five years and six months in prison on Tuesday for importation of 632 pounds of
ganga.

 Barnes was charged along with Jamaican nationals
Shawn Reid, Henry Heron and Cleveland Milton Roxborough who were also charged
with illegal landing.

Particulars of the importation
offence are that on 8 September, 2009, the men were attempting to unload parcels
of ganga on to the shore, when they were spotted and corralled by police.

Barnes is said to have attempted to
escape on the canoe but was subsequently apprehended.

He, Roxborough, Heron and Reid all
pleaded guilty to the charges at an early stage in the proceedings.

A fifth man also charged in the
matter, Jasper Stewart, has pleaded not guilty and is being dealt with
separately.

During Tuesday’s Summary Court
session, Magistrate Grace Donalds indicated that the defendants might have to
wait to be sentenced, as one of the attorneys representing the men was unable
to attend the sitting and one of the men was still unrepresented.

However, Barnes insisted that he
could be sentenced to which his lawyer John Furniss concurred, saying it would
not prejudice the other defendants, as they had all pleaded guilty.

 Reid then rose and told the court that he had
heard nothing from the legal aid application he had filled out and also wanted
to proceed.

Magistrate Grace Donalds conceded
and the hearing continued.

In summarising the facts of the
case, Crown Prosecutor Kenneth Ferguson said Barnes was the apparent ring
leader in the enterprise and advised the magistrate of antecedents on his
record.

He also tendered interviews,
certificates and photographs for evidence.

In his mitigating arguments, Mr.
Furniss said all things considered, his client had entered a guilty plea at the
earliest stage possible and would have done so before. He said it was important
for the lab results to come back so they would not be “caught out” by any other
drug that might have unknowingly been present and that was the only delay.

Mr. Furniss explained that his
client had recently turned 40 and had a cocaine problem, which he would need
help with once he got out of prison.

The attorney added that it was this
addiction that led Barnes to get involved in this type of enterprise.

He also cited the case of Sheena
Minzette in which the defendant pleaded not guilty and was convicted with an
amount of roughly 900 pounds and also had previous convictions.

“She received four years and
appealed against good advice. At the end of the day the Court of Appeal said
that in their view the not guilty plea and the previous conviction would appropriate
a sentence of five to six years but decided to leave the sentence at four
years.”

In arguing for leniency for his
client, Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey said Roxborough was on the lower end of
the scale and was doing the riskiest work for the least pay off.

He added that ganga was a soft drug
and carried a maximum of seven years for importation.

The attorney said his client was 55
years of age and had young children, as well as a companion he had been with
for 17 years.

He asked to be mindful of this and
have mercy and cited the fact that this client had no previous convictions
anywhere and was of previous good character.

He pointed out sentences of 12
months in instances where defendants had only played minor roles.

 Shawn Reid 20, who was unrepresented said he
knew what he was doing and was very sorry: “No work or nothing ma’am, I was
trying for a better life,” he lamented.

The other man, Heron, whose
attorney was not present, said he did not want to wait.

However the magistrate tried to
dissuade him against doing so without his lawyer present to no avail.

He insisted on being sentenced even
though he had a previous conviction in the Cayman Islands for which he served
prison time.

After hearing all the arguments and
submissions on the men’s behalf, Magistrate Donalds sentenced Barnes to four
years for the charge of importation.

She cited his previous conviction
for importation of ganga and an 18 month prison sentence that was suspended for
two years for that conviction and pointed out that this offence had occurred
during that two year period.

As a result, she added the 18
months, making for a total of five years and six months with credit for time
served.

With regard to Reid and Roxborough,
the magistrate said it was evident they had only acted in minimal capacity and
sentenced both men to 12 months in prison for the charge of importation.

For illegally landing in the Cayman
Islands, the men received one month in prison to run concurrently.

Heron, was sentenced to two and a
half years in prison, as this was his second offence in Cayman.

For landing illegally, he was
sentenced one month to run concurrently.

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