A police officer who attempted to smuggle 234 grams of marijuana during an excursion to Canouan nine months ago, was jailed on Monday.
Constable 474 Ian Jacobs was sentenced to eleven months in prison ‘for corruptly obtaining property for himself on account of a transaction done by him in discharge of the duties of his office, while being employed in the Public Service as a member of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, and being charged with the performance of his duties’.
The 24-year-old Chateaubelair man was also sentenced to three months for possession of 234 grams of marijuana for the purpose of drug trafficking, and two months for possession with intent to supply. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne had convicted Jacobs on all three charges following a trial at the Serious Offences Court on Mondary.
Jacobs conducted his own defence.
In recommending a custodial sentence, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delpleche declared, “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated. It corrupts our system”, adding that a strong message must be sent to those who think they could continue that type of behaviour.
In handing down the penalties, the Chief Magistrate told the suspended officer that policing is a noble profession for which he had taken an oath.
“You are held to certain standards,” she asserted.
“When you are not given a suitable penalty for the offence, you are allowed to go back into the society and do bigger things,” she contended.
“Even on the excursion you are a Police Officer, and you have to act in accordance with the oath you have taken..,” Browne pointed out.
“Instead of preventing crime, you doing crime,” she lamented, adding that official corruption, one of the offences with which Jacobs was charged, is a very serious offence which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
“Using public office for the commission of the offences, that is extremely serious,” she stressed.
Browne said she found no mitigating factors in relation to the offences. But she noted that Jacobs had no previous convictions. She also took into account his youthfulness and the possibility of rehabilitation.
At the time of his arrest, Jacobs was attached to the Georgetown Police Station. He was arrested by Corporal Cliff James at the Grenadines Wharf on October 13 last year, as he was about to board the Gem Star for an excursion dubbed ‘Leg Go tin’, destined for Canouan.
A search of a shoulder bag he was carrying revealed two plastic bags containing marijuana. The shoulder bag also contained two cellular phones, a toothbrush and a number of small zip bags.
Jacobs said, under caution, “That’s a small scene.”
James was among several offciers who were assigned specifically to deal with the security aspect of the excursion, including conducting searches, and affixing wrist bands on persons with tickets.
James’ evidence was corroborated by Constable Marcus Patrick and Sergeant Renrick Cato.
Patrick told the Court that while on duty at the Grenadines Wharf around 8 a.m on the date in question, Jacobs approached him and asked for a job on the security team.
“I told him we done full out already. I told him if he wants to go for the ride, to go to Sergeant Cato for a wrist band”.
Patrick said Jacobs went through the gate several times.
“I told him he can’t be in and out of the gate because he is not working. He went about 200 ft. from me and starting speaking to a Rastaman. I saw when the Rasta man give him a bookbag. He turned away and went towards Harbour Club, (an area next to the wharf), and I told Sergeant Cato of my observation.”
When the vessel blew its horn signifying its was ready to depart, the officers moved from the gate they were manning and went on to the vessel.
Sergeant Cato, who had testified before Patrick, told the Court that he saw Jacobs come through the gate with a bookbag over his back, and when Corporal James questioned him about it he said a “soldier” gave him it to carry on the boat. When James asked him for the identity and whereabouts of the ‘soldier’ Jacobs said, “I don’t know.”
The search was then conducted of the bag, revealing the two plastic bags of marijuana.
In his evidence to the Court, Jacobs said a man called ‘Snake’ told him to hold the bag for him while he (Snake) went to the nearby Massy Supermarket.
However, during cross-examination, the Senior Prosecutor asked, “As a Police Officer, when ‘Snake’ gave you the bag, why you did not ask him what was in the bag?” Jacobs did not reply.
Delpleche further questioned, “In your cross-examination of the Police Officers, you even put it to them that you got the bag from ‘Snake’?”
Jacobs said, “No,” and claimed he had pointed out ‘Snake’ to the Police Officers at the wharf.
The Court also heard evidence from Sergeant Gamal Bowens of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
(Photo credit I witness news )