Inmate had ganja in prison

Magistrate consistent in giving extra time to defendants found with drugs in prison

Magistrate Valdis Foldats thanked Erick Adam for his guilty pleas to possession of ganja but said he was sending a message to the defendant and the whole prison population – if they have drugs in prison, they will get a sentence added on to whatever term they are serving.

He imposed sentences totalling three months, to be served consecutively to the term Adam is already serving.

In Summary Court on Tuesday, Adam admitted to possession of 54.6 grams of ganja at Northward Prison on 10 August, 2012, a small amount secreted in the bottom of a desk fan on 25 August 2012, and 3.75 grams in his sock when he was searched on 4 October, 2012.

Attorney Richard Barton asked the court to consider giving Adam sentences that would run concurrent with the term he is serving. He explained that there was a possibility of parole for Adam in September that he hoped would not be compromised.

Mr. Barton said his client had used ganja last year after being devastated by his conviction. “He found himself in a dark and lonely place,” the attorney explained.

Caymanian Compass records show that a Grand Court jury found Adam guilty of theft and false accounting in April 2012. After the verdict, he was remanded in custody, then sentenced in June to two and a half years. Mr. Barton informed the court that the substantive matter was under review for appeal.

He said Adam had stopped using ganja and in fact was asking to be tested by the court that day to show he would be negative.

The magistrate commented that, until six or eight months ago, charges of ganja possession in prison were not coming to court – they were dealt with internally.

Now that the charges are being brought, he had to be consistent. For a first conviction, the sentence will be one month in addition to the sentence being served. “If you come a second time, you’re going to get substantially more,” the magistrate said.

He described Adam’s case as unusual because he hadn’t had his first charge dealt with before the other charges came.

Mr. Barton suggested that Adam had not received the court’s stern warning previously and so could not be said to have disobeyed the court.

But the magistrate replied that Adam was smart enough to know that his third possession showed blatant disregard for prison rules.

He asked if prison authorities had imposed any sanctions. Mr. Barton said Adam lost employment privileges for three months.

The court adjourned briefly for Adam to be tested. The result came back clean. Adam said he was sorry for committing the offences: “I was going through a very hard time.” He said he now realised it was no use using and no good for him.

The magistrate thanked him for his pleas and cooperation. “That’s the kind of society we want to live in,” he said. “If you make a mistake, confess, take your lumps and move on … Whenever someone says guilty, I try to give as much credit as I can.”

He said he was taking into account the fact that Adam did not come to court and get the warning before re-offending. For the first offence, he imposed one month consecutive to the sentence being served. For the second offence, the sentence was one month concurrent. The third offence was three months, concurrent to the first ganja sentence but consecutive to the grand court sentence.

Details of the charges were presented to the court by Crown Counsel Toyin Salako.