Randolf Williams, 41-year-old father of one, will not be spending Christmas behind bars for marijuana possession.
The Lowmans Leeward man was on Tuesday fined $9,900 forthwith or ten months in prison for possession of 14,982 grams of marijuana with intent to supply. He paid the fine immediately, and left the Court.
Williams was charged jointly with Randolf Samuel, also of Lowmans Leeward, and Atiba Jones of Union Island.
All three men had pleaded not guilty to the charge during a previous appearance at the Serious Offences Court.
However, on their return to that Court on Tuesday, Williams took the rap, pleading guilty to the charge.
The others maintained their innocence, and the prosecution withdrew the charge against them.
In presenting the facts, Court Clerk Corporal Atnel Ash told the Court that around 1:30 p.m. on July 7, a party of officers from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) were conducting stop and search duties at Richmond, when they signaled a white Toyota Corolla which was travelling towards Chateaubelair, to stop. The driver complied.
The men were asked whether they had anything to declare, and they all said no.
A search was conducted on their persons, but nothing illegal was found. The vehicle was then searched, and two sacks containing packages of marijuana were found.
When cautioned, the men said nothing.
In mitigation, Williams’ lawyer Grant Connell asked Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne to “impose a small fine in the spirit of Christmas.”
Connell said his client cooperated with the police, and was remorseful. He admitted that Williams had a previous conviction, but said it was not of a similar nature.
According to the lawyer, Williams was not a marijuana user, nor does he sell the herb.
Connell said that according to his instructions, a friend had given Williams the sacks to drop off at Chateaubelair.
“Once there is sunshine, there will be ganja, and those who want to fight it down, it will even grow on their graves,” Connell mused.
Anomalies in the law
Connell said that those who once scorned and scorned persons who come before the Court on marijuana charges, are today benefitting from what is referred to as Medical Marijuana but he added, “It is one and the same herb.”
As he has repeatedly done in the past, Connell again took a swipe at the Drug Act.
“The Law as it is, is harsh and unconscionable,” he echoed.
He noted that marijuana carried the same penalty as the wretched drug cocaine.
The lawyer also contended that firearms and ammunition are designed to kill, yet marijuana possession carries the same penalty as firearm and possession of ammunition.
Connell further pointed that the marijuana trade has clothed, fed and educated many on the North Leeward end of the country.
According to Connell, it is usually the poor who are brought before the Court on marijuana charges, and even if there are cases in which a rich man is charged, they do not end up in jail because they are able to pay whatever financial penalty is imposed.
“Impose a small fine in the spirit of Christmas. He is a good man, look at his face,” the lawyer pleaded.
In handing down the penalty, the Chief Magistrate applied the sentencing guidelines including a guilty plea at the first available opportunity. He was still granted the one-third discount on his sentence and she weighed the mitigating and aggravating factors.