A woman who admitted carrying ganja to Northward Prison in her child’s diaper was sentenced on Monday to 16 months’ imprisonment. With half-credit for time on curfew and electronic monitor, defendant Daniella Tibbetts is to serve 13 and a half months, Magistrate Valdis Foldats told her.
Tibbetts pleaded guilty to possessing 85.4 grams of the illegal vegetable matter (about three ounces) with intent to supply it to a serving prisoner in August, 2016.
The magistrate cited a U.K. case in which a young female received an immediate sentence of one year for carrying four wraps of ganja to her partner who was in prison. Local cases based on this decision have been endorsed by the Grand Court, Magistrate Foldats noted.
The amount Tibbetts carried was not a few wraps that would be used up in a day or two, he pointed out, so both the quantity and the location were aggravating features.
Defense attorney John Furniss had said that Tibbetts was pressured into carrying the ganja by her partner, who is serving a lengthy sentence. In mitigation, Mr. Furniss had asked the court to consider the welfare of the child in deciding what sentence to impose.
The magistrate said the scheme to get the ganja inside prison was planned and coordinated. Tibbetts had followed instructions. She met with a drug dealer who supplied the ganja, wrapped a certain way.
“This was not an impulsive act, even if the defendant did not plan it. She had plenty of time to reflect on her actions. The ganja was then placed in her child’s diaper. I stop the narrative here, as this leads to the third aggravating factor. At this point, any right-minded mother would say ‘Enough is enough, this is madness.’ But the defendant did not stop.”
Using the child as an object or a conduit for delivering the drug was “a shocking and reprehensible abuse of her parental responsibilities,” the magistrate declared.
According to the social inquiry report and personal references, Tibbetts was a responsible and productive person, quiet and respectful, someone who assisted her family and a special-needs relative. People who knew her questioned her judgment regarding male partners, he said.
Magistrate Foldats displayed, but did not read, a letter he had received from Tibbetts that morning; he said he accepted it as genuine remorse. He also expressed the hope that she would get counseling in prison.
As to the child, the magistrate said prison sentences almost by definition interfere with family life. The needs of a family have to be considered along with the needs of society for deterrent sentences. There cannot be disparate sentences based on the circumstances of the defendant, he indicated.
“The defendant’s actions, which are properly characterized as an exploitation and corruption of her role as a mother, make it difficult to afford any weight to the separation of mother from child as mitigation. But that approach would be reactionary – punishing the child for the mother’s behavior. The reality is stark – this innocent child will now have both mother and father in prison. It is the child I must focus on here,” he said.
Mr. Furniss previously advised that family members were taking care of the child.
The magistrate’s starting point for sentencing was three years. Mitigating factors took that down to two years – the shortest term in proportion to the gravity of the offense, he said. He then subtracted one-third for the guilty plea, resulting in a term of 16 months.
For supplying drugs to a serving prisoner, a lengthy sentence must be handed down, he said. Tibbetts had spent 18 weeks on curfew and electronic monitor, so the magistrate gave her two and a half months credit, about 50 percent. The result is that Tibbetts still has 13 and a half months to serve.
The magistrate emphasized the seriousness of supplying drugs to someone in prison, describing the evil they do behind bars as worse than the evil they cause in open society. Drugs are like currency, he pointed out, and can be used to extort or bully; they can lead to injury of other inmates or even staff.