Ganja taken to prison in hair cream jar

Magistrate finds that defendant’s use of false name showed guilty knowledge

A 26-year-old man was found guilty Wednesday of taking marijuana to Northward Prison in a hair cream jar, with the intent of supplying it to an inmate. 

The marijuana was in a separate casing, creating a false compartment at the bottom of the jar. 

Kyle Santamaria had pleaded not guilty, saying he did not know the 4.84 grams of ganja was in the jar that he carried as a “hand-in” on Feb. 14, 2010. 

Prison Officer Michael Taylor demonstrated the device for Magistrate Grace Donalds during the trial. When he removed the lid and squeezed the jar, the inner casing popped out. 

Defense attorney Prathna Bodden cited another case involving ganja in that type of jar. In that case, the defendant was found not guilty, she pointed out.  

However, the defendant in that case made no attempt to hide her identity.  

In Santamaria’s case, he acknowledged using someone else’s name when he went to the prison, and giving prison officers the name of an inmate different than that of the inmate for whom the hand-ins were intended.  

Magistrate Donalds found that the use of a false name established guilty knowledge that the items to be handed in were not normal. Santamaria gave evidence; he told the court he had inspected the items and did not notice anything unusual about them, but the arrangements were unusual, the magistrate pointed out. He had falsely identified himself, falsely identified the inmate the hand-ins were for, and said he did not know the person from whom he got the items. She said she was satisfied that the defendant knew the ganja was in the jar. 

Crown witness Rupert Newman told the court he was on duty at the prison checkpoint for visitors bringing hand-ins. He asked the defendant his name and the name of the person he was bringing the items for. 

Santamaria gave the inmate’s name and identified himself as having the same last name, with the first name Carlo. The officer checked the inmate’s file and saw that “Carlo” was the inmate’s father. He thought the visitor looked too young to be the father, so he did a physical check of the items. The container of hair cream had a scent that made him suspicious, so he called two other officers, including Mr. Taylor. 

Mr. Taylor told the court that he squeezed the jar and saw it was in two sections, but he could not separate them with his bare hands. A third officer used a pair of pliers to grip the inner section and pull it out. Vegetable matter was inside the larger part.  

Santamaria told the court the name of an inmate he said was “bothering” him to bring hand-ins as a favor. He said he was told to say that the hand-ins were for someone else because the person who called him said he couldn’t get any more hand-ins, so he wanted to get his stuff through another prisoner he knew. Items included shampoo, deodorant and hair grease.  

Santamaria said he used the false name because prison regulations require that visitors bringing hand-ins be on a list and his name was not on anyone’s list. 

He said he was told to get the items from someone whose name he did not know; that person would be on a bicycle at the top of Will T. Road [several streets east of the road leading to Northward Prison]. 

Ms Ball asked if he had added cigarettes and a magazine to the items to make the other hand-ins look more normal. Santamaria denied this. He explained he was not close friends with the person who had called him, but knew his family. “I just felt – being contained in a place like that, he could use them.” 

Asked why he was prepared to use a false name, he said there were cameras at the prison showing him, and it would have taken time to get on someone’s list as a visitor who could bring hand-ins. 

He agreed he was aware of other people being arrested around that time for carrying ganja into the prison. He said he asked the person who called him if drugs were involved and was told no, so he was satisfied. 

In her closing remarks, Ms Bodden argued that giving a false name might have been suspicious, but it wasn’t enough to make the court feel sure that Santamaria knew. She suggested that her client had trusted the family more than the individual who had called him. What he had done was stupid and raised alarms, but it wasn’t enough. 

After the guilty verdict, she asked for a social inquiry report. The magistrate agreed and set sentencing for Feb. 26.