Social supply of cocaine nets 18 months

Abijah Uhuru Ramoon, 26, was
sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine
with intent to supply.

From the first time he came to
court for the offence, he admitted having the drug to supply, but not to sell.

At the sentencing hearing on 7 April,
Defence Attorney John Furniss said he did not think Ramoon recognised that
supply among friends is still supply.

Chief Magistrate Margaret
Ramsay-Hale accepted it was not commercial supply; it occurred in social

“The tariff for dealing, even among
friends, is custody,” she pointed out. “Street dealing takes five years, but
that’s for profit.”

Mr. Furniss agreed with the term
“social supply”. In this case, Ramoon was going to give it to a female
acquaintance “in exchange for certain favours later.”

The magistrate said plying women
with drugs in the hope of later favours was exploitative. She asked what the Court
of Appeal had said.

Mr. Furniss briefly reviewed the
facts of a case in which young men agreed to supply cocaine to attractive undercover female police officers whom they
had met in a nightclub. In those particular circumstances, the court had said a
sentence in the region of two years was appropriate.

In Ramoon’s case, Mr. Furniss said,
the court knew his history and the level of improvement he had made in recent
years. He had a good job, which he lost through no fault of his own, but went
right back out and found another job instead of sitting around idle. After being
a nuisance, he had straightened himself up.

The attorney asked for a sentence
that would serve as a short, sharp shock and not deter Ramoon from his
intention to move along the right track.

The magistrate looked at his record,
which contained offences of drug consumption and possession. She agreed that
from 2006, the court didn’t know anything about him.

With social supply of cocaine attracting a sentence of two years after trial, she gave
him credit for his early guilty plea and imposed 18 months. She noted the
cocaine rock weighed nearly one gram.

 For consumption of ganja, which he also admitted,
she imposed six months, to run concurrently.

Facts of the offence were provided
by Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson.

She said police officers were conducting spot checks along Bodden Road in George Town
on 11 August last year. They saw a van being driven in a manner that aroused their

The officers stopped the van and
recognised Ramoon as the driver. They also recognised the other occupants. They
requested a search of the van and the people in it.

In Ramoon’s front pants pocket they
found the piece of crack cocaine wrapped in gold foil. Ramoon was arrested and admitted
his intent to supply.

In the night club case that went to
the Court of Appeal, Justice Edward Zacca agreed that those defendants were at
the bottom of the drug distribution chain. But, he added, they were still part
of causing misery and ruining lives. “Whether it’s for partying or not, we know
what cocaine can do to people,” he commented.

In another exchange he remarked,
“The damage to the person getting the cocaine remains the same whether the
supply was social or commercial.”