Man imprisoned in 2004 cocaine case

Brittanio Walton returns to Cayman, pleads guilty

Nine and a half years after he ran from police with drugs in his clenched fist, Brittanio Jermaine Walton was sentenced to five years imprisonment for possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

Facts given by crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson and mitigation by defense attorney Richard Barton combined to set out the history of this case in Summary Court last Thursday.

Walton was 21 when the incident occurred that led to charges against him. On Wednesday, May 12, 2004, at about 5:45 p.m., members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service were on mobile patrol in an unmarked police vehicle near the Pistol Bar on Bodden Road, George Town. The officers saw Walton walking towards the vehicle with his head down and his right fist clenched. He looked up and ran across the path of the vehicle, entering the Pistol Bar.

The police officers gave chase. Walton was seen throwing something from his right hand as he ran. He was accosted at the rear of the bar. The police questioned him as to what he had thrown and he admitted it was ganja. He assisted the police in recovering some ganja in a pink wrapper embedded at the base of a chain-link fence.

Officers then went to the area where he had been observed throwing something and they recovered two pieces of crack cocaine from the ground. Walton denied possession of the crack cocaine, stating that the area was “a known drug area that is full of crack heads.” He was then arrested and taken to the George Town Police Station along with the drugs.

Officers learned that the proprietor of the bar had raked the yard that morning.

A laboratory technican from the Cayman Islands Forensic Science Laboratory swabbed Walton’s hands and an analysis of the swabs revealed trace-level cocaine on the defendant’s right hand.

Police officers then conducted a search of Walton’s George Town residence and recovered an electronic scale in his bedroom. He was interviewed and provided a urine specimen for analysis, which subsequently tested positive for cocaine.

Walton pleaded not guilty to possession of 6.395 grams of cocaine with intent to supply. On the day of his trial, Jan. 9, 2006, Walton failed to appear. The court issued a warrant for his arrest, with no bail.

Mr. Barton explained that Walton had migrated to the United States to be with his wife and family because she had been informed by the Immigration Department that she was no longer permitted to remain in Cayman.

“Mr. Walton accepts that he emigrated prematurely to the U.S. and prior to the disposal of the charges, but denies that he did so with the intention of absconding, but rather in his efforts to be with his young family,” Mr. Barton told Magistrate Grace Donalds.

In 2009, while residing in the U.S., Walton was sentenced to 51 months in a federal prison after being convicted of firearms-related offenses, Mr. Barton said. Walton was deported to Cayman in February 2013 and remanded in prison pending the outcome of the drug charges here.

In June, Walton pleaded guilty. Sentencing was adjourned after the court requested a social inquiry report.

Walton, from Cayman Brac, began using ganja in early adolescence, Mr. Barton said. Now, having spent the last four years in custody, Walton was ready to turn a new page. “Mr. Walton knows that assuming full responsibility for his past transgressions is a critical step in the direction of reform and it is on this basis, coupled with his genuine remorse, that he has pleaded guilty,” the attorney advised.

The guilty plea had spared the court the time and expense of calling witnesses and holding a trial, he pointed out.

Mr. Barton cited previous Summary Court sentences for street-level dealing, including a case in which a five-year sentence was reduced to four years because of the passage of time between the offense and the sentencing.

The magistrate, however, said that the defendant in that case had used the passage of time making efforts to get his life in order, whereas Walton had committed additional offenses while in the U.S.

She directed that sentences for the ganja offences run concurrently. For failure to surrender in 2006, she imposed a sentence of one month, to be served consecutively.

In 2009, while residing in the U.S., Walton was charged and convicted of firearms-related offenses and sentenced to 51 months in a federal prison,