Inmate to start ganja sentence in 2020

Defendant claims guards smuggle and sell the illegal drug

Leighton Rankine, who pleaded guilty to possessing ganja inside Northward Prison, was sentenced this week to serve 30 days consecutive to his current sentence. 

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn asked him when was his expected release date. “2020,” he replied. 

Rankine, 36, received a term of 13 years for firearm and wounding convictions in August this year after a shooting incident in February 2012. 

In Summary Court for a first mention on Tuesday, he immediately pleaded guilty to possession of ganja. Asked if he had anything to say, he told the court, “When the officers stop smuggling it and selling it to prisoners, then we stop smoking it.” 

In passing sentence, the magistrate said she would not comment on what Rankine had said about how he came to have the ganja because there was nothing to support the allegation. 

She emphasized that however the drug came to be available, the defendant had a choice not to smoke it and a choice not to possess it. 

Possession of ganja remains an offense in Cayman, she pointed out, and having it in prison was an aggravating factor. “It has become a serious concern and a deterrent sentence is called for,” she said. 

For such a sentence to mean anything, it had to be consecutive, the magistrate said, imposing the 30 days accordingly. 

Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson said the offense occurred on Aug. 6. The ganja was discovered after prison guards escorted Rankine and another person to the Cayman Islands Hospital for medical attention. As they waited for a prescription to be filled, one of the officers noticed Rankine acting in a suspicious manner. 

Following a search, officers found 24 grams of ganja in his glass case.