Ganja thrower gets two years

A man who threw a package of ganja into the Northward Prison compound has been placed on the other side of the prison fence after being sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

Frederick George Miller, 56, was sentenced Tuesday after Magistrate Grace Donalds accepted evidence that he had thrown the over the prison fence.

She found him guilty of possessing 11.5 ounces of ganja with intent to supply and smuggling the contraband into Northward Prison on Oct. 25, 2012.

Questioning by defense attorney John Furniss during the trial had revealed that the CCTV camera system at the prison did not record the incident, so there was no footage for the court to view.

The magistrate said she concluded that the evidence of prison officer Angelia Lawrence was of good quality when she told the court that she saw Miller. Ms Lawrence said she was in the control room monitoring cameras around 8 p.m. when she observed a man ride up to the prison on bicycle. She saw him stop, dismount and throw an object over the fence. When the camera showed the man’s face, she recognized Miller, whom she had known for 10 years.

The lighting was good, there was no obstruction, the identification was based on recognition and it was not a fleeting glance, the magistrate summarized.

Further, Ms Lawrence’s evidence was supported by the fact that the package was found where she had said it landed. Corroboration was provided by officers who left the prison to apprehend Miller nearby.

The defendant had denied riding a bicycle in that area, the magistrate noted. He said he was at the location because he had been given a job cutting fence posts. However, he did not know the name of the man who employed him and officers saw no sign of post cutting.

Mr. Furniss had also queried the chain of custody of the ganja. Ms Lawrence told the court she kept one of the cameras on the package after she saw it land, and she directed another officer by radio as to where it was. The magistrate said she was satisfied that the officer who picked it up carried it to the security department and another officer there handed it to police.

Senior crown counsel Tanya Lobban, who conducted the prosecution, noted that the maximum sentence for possession of ganja with intent to supply is seven years for a first offence.

The Prisons Law provides a maximum of three years for the smuggling of any article or thing. Smuggling includes bringing, throwing, or in any manner introducing or conveying anything into any prison without authorization.

Ms Lobban and Mr. Furniss noted a case earlier this year that involved the smuggling of 1.44 grams of cocaine into the prison. The four-year sentence imposed was upheld on appeal to Grand Court. Agreeing there was a difference between a hard drug and a soft drug, counsel accepted principles set out by Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn in the cocaine case.

The magistrate said that drugs in prison are a worse evil than they are in open society because they become the currency of prison. They have much greater value there than on the street, and they can be responsible for injuries to prison staff.