Five years for offences from 2005
Eugene Minzett, also known as Haitian, was sentenced to five years imprisonment
after being found guilty of selling cocaine to an undercover police officer on
five different occasions.
denied being the person from whom the officer purchased cocaine rocks, but
there was no dispute that the sales occurred at the Bodden Town premises where
Minzett lived. The sales took place between August and October in 2005 and were
for amounts ranging from $25 to $200.
John Furniss, who spoke informally, reminded the court that the case had been
hanging over Minzett’s head for almost five years. His trial had been scheduled
numerous times but could not go ahead. The delays were not the defendant’s
fault, he said. Minzett’s last conviction was in 2003 and since then he had
been staying out of trouble and rehabilitating himself.
now 43, told Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale, . He said he got a job
helping to clean up Bodden Town and had been promoted to supervisor of a work
magistrate said eight years was the tariff for selling cocaine. Good character
or improving one’s life could not count for much because the sentence has to be
a deterrent to would-be offenders.
considering various factors, she decided, “I’m giving him credit for trying to
improve himself. He has tried to make a change.” O she imposed a term of five
years on each charge, but made them concurrent. “Five years after trial is a
very good deal,” she told Minzett, adding that he had the right to appeal
within seven days.
finding him guilty, the magistrate said the case turned on the credibility of
the officer. He had seen the seller five times in daylight when the sales took
place. He said the seller responded to the name Haitian. Then, on the day of
the last sale, when Minzett was arrested by other police, the undercover
officer went to the car in which Minzett had been placed and saw him.
magistrate said she was satisfied that the person from whom the officer bought
cocaine was the defendant.
did not give evidence, she noted, but he did challenge the officers’ evidence
most vehemently, suggesting that the undercover officer had gone to his house
with another man. He argued that there was no independent corroboration of the
officer’s evidence — no witness, no tape recording, no money.
also argued that the cocaine was not admissible as evidence because it had not been
sealed in the presence of the accused.
the magistrate said this was not a case of just one purchase, when an officer
could say to the offender “I just bought this from you.” This was a case of
five separate purchases, so that the undercover officer had no opportunity to
confront him the first four times. The protocol adopted was that he would leave
the scene of the purchase and take the item to his sergeant, who would then
seal it in his presence. Laboratory analysis showed all items to be cocaine.
the magistrate handed down her verdict, she pointed out that rules for handling
of exhibits are made so as to avoid any suggestion of tampering or replacing
substances. Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban, who conducted the case for the
prosecution, said the continuity of custody of the drugs had been agreed when
Minzett had legal counsel.