Man sentenced to eight months for ganja found on beach

A man who admitted finding more than 9 pounds of ganja on a beach in June 2012 was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for possession of the drug with intent to supply.

Errol Anthony Ricketts had pleaded guilty to simple possession, and not guilty to the intent charge. Ricketts, who was 24 at the time of the offense, told the court that he was afraid to call police after finding the ganja because he thought that, as a young Jamaican male, he would be locked up. He said he planned to keep a small amount for personal use and then have his mother call her pastor to accompany him to see the police.

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn on Monday accepted that he had found the ganja, citing the Crown’s evidence that police had discovered ganja on beaches four times between June 2013 and April 2014.

She did not accept that Ricketts did not call police because of fear, pointing out that he had admitted finding one bag and then looking to see if there were any more.

“His hope of finding more ganja strongly suggests that he was hoping to financially gain from his find,” she said.

Ricketts had not been afraid to move the ganja from the beach, transport it in his car and keep it in his bedroom, she observed.

Defense attorney Prathna Bodden had argued against the possession with intent to supply charge, noting that there was no evidence of money, scales or wrapping materials.

She called the defendant’s mother as a witness. The woman said her son called her the afternoon before he was arrested and she had then tried to call her pastor but was not successful. The magistrate indicated she did not find the witness truthful.

Magistrate Gunn noted that at the time of his arrest, Ricketts had not made any financial gain from the drugs. Police found a bag and bucket of ganja in his room. In a refrigerator they found an olive jar with 1.2 pounds of ganja; a coffee jar with a little over 4 ounces; a plastic bag with 2.3 ounces; and a foil wrap with a little over half an ounce.

After the guilty verdict, a social inquiry report was ordered. It showed that Ricketts started using ganja when he was 16. He came to Cayman when he was 18 and knew ganja is illegal here. He said he consumed the drug because of financial stress, but had not consumed since January this year.

Ms. Bodden produced references from Ricketts’s employer, the mother of his two children, and his current partner. She asked for a suspended sentence or community service order.

The magistrate concluded a community service order would send the wrong message in relation to the seriousness of the offense.