Former Department of Immigration staffers Stephen Wayne Hurlston and Oscar Lee Watler are not hardened drug dealers, but simply “incompetent amateurs” and “nothing but bumbling drug dealers,” their attorneys told the court on Wednesday, asking for a lesser sentence for their clients.
Messrs. Hurlston and Watler were convicted in May of possession of cocaine with intent to supply. They were scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, but their attorneys spent most of the hearing arguing that the court should give a lesser sentence due to their clean track records and other factors.
The attorney for Mr. Watler, John Furniss, said his client had worked for the Department of Immigration since 2001, and that his colleagues “spoke very highly of him.”
Mr. Watler, 34, also has health problems, including a transplanted kidney, eye issues that required surgery, and the need for a hearing aid, according to Mr. Furniss. While the amount of cocaine Mr. Watler was found guilty of possessing – more than 1.61 pounds – typically results in a 15-year sentence, Mr. Furniss asked that his client fall within the 8- to 12-year range as a result of the above factors.
The two defendants were not experienced drug dealers, but found the cocaine, he said. Instead of rightly turning it over to the authorities, in their excitement they decided to keep it in their possession, according to the attorney.
Mr. Hurlston’s attorney, Steve McField, made similar pleadings for his client, saying that the defendant had a “great and a good life” with no criminal record. Mr. Hurlston, 28, also has a child and poses little risk of committing another crime, Mr. McField said.
His biggest punishment will be losing his standing in the community, as well as his job at the Department of Immigration, Mr. McField added.
Mr. Furniss also submitted to the court a case precedent where another Cayman defendant was given a lesser sentence for a similar crime.
However, Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson pointed out that the defendant in that case had pleaded guilty, while Mr. Watler did not. Mr. Furniss responded that while the defendant in the case he submitted had pleaded guilty, that person also had a prior conviction.
Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn said she needed time to review the case, and delayed her sentencing until Wednesday, Aug. 22.