A man who admitted possession of 9.2 pounds of ganja was fined $5,000 last week and given a suspended sentence supervision order so he can get counseling for his drug use.
Gregory Bent, 34, admitted ownership of 8.1 pounds of ganja at his home in Savannah on May 22, 2017. He also admitted possession of 1.1 pounds found in his car at his workplace that same day.
Mr. Bent’s wife and sister had also been charged with the ganja found at the home, where they all resided. Defense attorney Jonathon Hughes said Mr. Bent agreed that storing ganja at the premises was an error in judgment. After police found quantities of the drug in the house and yard, the two women were arrested and kept in custody overnight. They were brought back to court on numerous occasions.
“He put them through a lot and they haven’t recovered since,” Mr. Hughes told Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez.
In passing sentence, the magistrate said she considered Mr. Bent’s early acceptance of responsibility. By doing so, he had spared his wife and sister from having to go through the trial process.
He entered his plea on Sept. 20, at which time the Crown did not proceed against the women. Before then, they had been required to have a surety and report regularly to a police station.
The magistrate noted that Mr. Bent’s wife had stood by him, even though it had not been easy for her to be “dragged through the system.”
She also accepted other points Mr. Hughes made in mitigation. The defendant did not see himself as a drug dealer, but he accepted he supplied to friends. “It wasn’t selling to strangers or on the street,” he said.
Mr. Hughes advised that his client had residency with the right to work, having lived in Cayman for 12 years. He had had a difficult childhood and ganja was a coping mechanism for him. When he was 9, he witnessed his older brother being killed. Further, Mr. Bent’s parents did not register his birth with authorities, so later on he lost opportunities for further education.
Nevertheless, he built up his life and became proficient in a technical field. His employer described Mr. Bent as one of his most experienced workers. He was trusted, hard-working and had a positive attitude, the man said.
One of the people who wrote a character reference for him said Mr. Bent had been “torn apart” when his family members were arrested.
The magistrate said Cayman has a problem with ganja. “The casualness with which it is looked upon is frightening. Ganja is hurting people, tearing apart families and yet is regarded as a regular smoke,” she commented.
She said the court had a duty to send a very strong message that drugs are not tolerated. Any intent to supply, even if it is not on a large commercial basis, is still supply, she pointed out.
The magistrate acknowledged that she had struggled over sentencing Mr. Bent because the normal penalty would be imprisonment. She determined that a suspended sentence supervision order could provide Mr. Bent with the intervention he needed, while a fine of $5,000 would make up for not going to jail.
She imposed a sentence of 12 months, suspended for two years. She allowed time to pay the $5,000 fine, plus another $500 for consuming ganja, which Mr. Bent also pleaded to.
***Editor’s Note: This story has been amended from the original to correct the name of the magistrate.***