Attorney Grant Connell thinks that the current procedure regarding the sampling of controlled drugs is highly prejudicial to the defendant, and ought to be changed.
Connell challenged the procedure at the Serious Offences Court this week while representing Javed Chetram of Grenada and Kezroy Edwards of Rose Bank, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The men were charged with possession of 183,416 grams of marijuana with intent to supply, possession for the purpose of drug trafficking, attempting to export and conspiracy.
During his closing arguments, Connell pointed out that the drug sampling procedure is not transparent, since it is done in the absence of the defendant or his attorney. He underscored that those samples are tested at the lab to verify whether the substance with which the defendant was allegedly found, is a controlled drug, in accordance with the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act.
“We must be certain that the samples taken from the packages the prosecution alleges were in possession of the defendant are the same.” Connell argued.
When contacted later, he told THE VINCENTIAN, “When taking samples from controlled drugs, there is always the possibility of the police taking samples from sources other than the packages taken from the defendant, since the defendant has no means to verify what was done in his absence.”
Connell said that the packages with the substance are kept in the exhibit room, along with packages (other) cases of a similar nature.
The lawyer added that sometimes police officers return about three months after, and in the absence of the defendant or his lawyer, take samples, and send them to the Lab to be tested.
According to Connell, the only time the defendant sees any sample is when he turns up in Court for the hearing of his matter.
“Envelopes are then presented in Court, and the Court is informed that the samples came from the packages the prosecution is alleging that the defendant had in his possession,” Connell contended.
“The existing procedure is dangerous, and must be changed, because if breadfruit bush or soap powder is sent to the Lab, that’s the end of the case,” Connell said.
“How would the defendant know what is sent? Trust the police?” he questioned. (The Vincentian)