(The Vincentian) While Attorney Grant Connell thinks the sentences handed down on his clients in a major marijuana case on Tuesday were not harsh, and were in keeping with precedence set by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, he told THE VINCENTIAN he would like to see certain issues related to the conviction, some of which he raised at the trial, tested by a higher court.
One such issue relates to marijuana seeds which, though not illegal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, forms part of the weight of the drugs with which the defendants were charged as having in their possession.
Upon conviction of four charges, Mark Bristol, 48, of McCarthy, was sentenced to 4 years, 8 months; Marvin Alexander, 42, of Diamond to 2 years, 8 months, and Curton Allen, 40, of Clifton, Union Island to 1 year, 8 months.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne found the men guilty of possession of 644 pounds of marijuana with intent to supply, possession for the purpose of drug trafficking, attempting to export the drug, and agreeing with each other to commit the offence of drug trafficking.
In his closing submissions on Tuesday, Connell argued that the evidence given in Court was at variance with the charges. He noted that the men were charged with being in possession at Fancy, while the evidence presented by the prosecution say they were in the waters of St. Lucia, a different jurisdiction, when the yacht on which they were travelling was intercepted by the local Coast Guard on February 22, 2019.
The charges said that on the 22 February 2019 at Fancy in the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they had in their possession the drugs.
“You can’t be in St. Lucia and St. Vincent at the same time,” Connell said. He referred to the Criminal Procedure Code to support his argument. He also noted that the drugs were found on the yacht only after it was taken to the Coast Guard base at Calliaqua.
The lawyer further argued that the certificate of analysis revealed that the samples were made up of cannabis, stalks and seeds. However, Connell pointed out that marijuana seeds are not illegal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Drug Act speaks of cannabis and not seeds.
But the Chief Magistrate found the men guilty on all charges, based on the evidence.
In relation to Connell’s argument that the evidence was at variance with the charges in respect of where the men were at the time of possession of the drugs, Browne pointed out that though the yacht was stopped in the waters of St Lucia, according to the evidence, the pursuit started at Fancy.