Four jailed for importing ganja

Terms of imprisonment ranged from 18 months to three years and nine months

Four men were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment last week after admitting their roles in the importation of 174 pounds of ganja in Cayman Brac last September. 

Glenval George Grant, 46, received 18 months. Noel Alexander Samuels, also 46, received 24 months. Jason Phelan McCoy, 33, was sentenced to two and a half years, while Derrick Antonio Adlam, 50, received a term of three years and nine months. 

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn passed those sentences on Wednesday after hearing the facts and mitigation two days earlier. She referred to an appeal heard by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in 2012, when he reduced a sentence after considering the quantity of drug involved, the defendant’s role in the importation, and previous convictions, if any. Other factors included the discount for a guilty plea and personal circumstances. 

In this case, Crown Counsel Candia James explained, that after immigration officers on the Brac received information, they carried out observations that led them to the beach at the Divi Tiara on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. They observed McCoy’s boat, with two occupants, heading out into the channel and meeting another boat. 

Items were passed between the two boats and McCoy’s vessel returned to shore. McCoy and another man were seen walking towards McCoy’s vehicle and each was carrying a large sack. One of the officers called out to McCoy, who exclaimed and dropped his sack. The other man also dropped his sack but ran from the scene. McCoy was arrested. That night, officers aboard a joint marine vessel intercepted a canoe about a mile from shore. Grant, Samuels and Adlam were on board. Two other sacks of ganja were subsequently found along the beach.  

When interviewed, all four men initially denied knowledge of the ganja.  

Magistrate Gunn noted that all except Adlam pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity and all expressed remorse. 

In her summary of their roles, she noted that a Jamaican male not before the courts was said by all four defendants to be the mastermind of the plan to bring the ganja to Cayman. 

Adlam, Samuels and Grant – all from Westmoreland, Jamaica – were experienced fishermen who willingly agreed to participate in the importation scheme. Grant provided the boat and was promised US$5,000. 

Samuels was promised Ja$300,000 to deliver the ganja to Cayman and he recruited Adlam. 

Adlam was promised 20 pounds of ganja for his assistance on the voyage and transfer of the drugs. 

McCoy was the Caymanian participant who provided local knowledge and a boat to transfer the ganja from Grant’s boat. He also supplied petrol for the Jamaicans’ trip back home. He was to assist in further transportation of the drugs to Grand Cayman. He was promised money and/or ganja in payment. 

Speaking for Grand and Samuels, Attorney Nicholas Dixey urged the magistrate to treat them as hired help, financially vulnerable individuals who were targeted by organizers to risk their lives for a meager amount of money. 

Attorney John Furniss spoke for Adlam. He said his client had refused to be involved when first approached. However, after considering his finances and overwhelming commitments for his children, he foolishly agreed. 

Attorney Fiona Robertson spoke for McCoy, who pleaded guilty to being concerned in the importation of ganja. 

The magistrate considered all of their pleas in mitigation when she passed the individual sentences. She commented generally that there are many people in Jamaica and elsewhere in the world who are in dire financial need, but they do not resort to criminal activity. 

All the defendants are family men, she noted, and it was true that the Jamaicans were unlikely to see their families until their sentences were completed. But this was a risk they took when they decided to commit an offence in a foreign jurisdiction.  

The maximum for a first ganja offense is seven years and the magistrate cited a starting point of three years in this case, with a 25 per cent discount for the guilty pleas. This took the sentence to 27 months. 

For Samuels, the magistrate further considered his previous good character before imposing 24 months. 

Grant also was of previous good character, which would have resulted in a 24-month term. But the magistrate referred to medical records provided by Mr. Dixey. They showed Grant suffered a stroke last year and was hospitalized six times since his incarceration at Northward Prison. Mr. Dixey had expressed concern that his client might suffer a fatal episode. 

The magistrate said that while he would continue to receive medical attention, his state of health did warrant a discount to take into account the added strain of being incarcerated. She imposed a sentence of 18 months. 

McCoy had previous convictions, albeit none for drug trafficking. He was on bail for another charge of being concerned in the possession of ganja for supply when he committed this offence. A social inquiry report showed a high risk of re-offending, given his continued use of ganja and lack of employment. 

McCoy had said he found himself recruited into the scheme and then felt he could not withdraw or tell police because he feared for the safety of his family. But no reference was made to any specific threat and he admitted he did expect to be paid. 

The magistrate said she found no exceptional circumstances in his case. His starting point was four years, with a 12 month discount for his guilty plea. There was no real difference between him and the Jamaicans, she indicated, but she accepted that his children were considerably younger, so she applied an additional discount for the total of 30 months. 

Adlam had a previous conviction for importing ganja into Cayman and was therefore subject to a different penalty – 15 years. In 1999, he received a two-and-a-half-year sentence. Then, in 2011, he received an 18-month sentence for human smuggling to Cayman. It was a significant aggravating feature that, 12 months after his release, he became involved in this matter. 

For these reasons, the magistrate said his starting point was five years. The 25 per cent discount reduced this to 45 months.