A 26-year-old woman told the Serious Offences Court on Monday she resorted to the marijuana business because of her economic situation.
Kendra Lewis, a resident of Bequia, gave the explanation after pleading guilty to possession of 193 grams of marijuana with intent to supply. She had no legal representation.
According to Lewis, she had been employed in hospitality sector up to March 2019, but was laid off. She added, “I was sort of depending on the stimulus package up until October last year.”
That package was put in place by government to assist certain sections of the population, in light of the economic hardships created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lewis told the Court she was the mother of a 2-year-old son, who was expected to begin pre-school in September.
“I have my bills to pay,” she declared.
Lewis pleaded for leniency saying that she was, “a good person.”
In presenting the facts earlier, Court Clerk Corporal Atnel Ash said that around 5:05 p.m. on January 9, Constable 915 Snagg was on duty at the Port Elizabeth wharf in Bequia, where she saw Lewis going onto the boat, Bequia Express, then disembarking the same boat with a handbag which she did not carry on.
Snagg approached the woman, identified herself, and informed Lewis of her duties.
Lewis consented to a search, but nothing illegal was found on her person.
However, a search of the handbag revealed a KFC box containing two zip bags which, when opened, were found to contain marijuana in one, and 34 wrapping papers in the other.
When cautioned, Lewis told the police, “Me light is 500 and I am unemployed.”
She was taken into custody along with the marijuana, which was weighed, and amounted to 193 grams. She was subsequently charged with possession with intent to supply.
In her summation on Monday, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne highlighted the method which was used in attempting to conceal the drugs in order to avoid detection, as an aggravating factor.
Browne, however, took into account Lewis’ dependent 2-year-old child. She also noted that Lewis had no previous convictions, and that she pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.
After applying the sentencing guidelines and balancing the aggravating and mitigating factors, she fined the woman $230 to be paid forthwith or two weeks in prison.