Grenadian nationals Michael Derrick, 25, and Razard Bhola, 18, are expected to return to their homeland on their vessel ‘Fingers’, once they pay their fines for two marijuana related offences.
The Grenadians, along with Gordon Paines, 29, of Georgetown, St. Vincent, initially pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to supply, and attempting to export 38 pounds of marijuana.
They, however, changed their pleas to guilty on both charges, when they returned to the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday.
For both offences, the Grenadians were each fined $2,665 forthwith or five months in prison, while the Vincentian was ordered to pay a total of $8,000 for both offences. He was ordered to pay $1,500 forthwith or three months in prison, and the balance by August 31 or 10 months behind bars.
Attorney Grant Connell represented the Grenadians, while the Vincentian was unrepresented.
The local Coast Guard had intercepted the men off Union Island around 6:20pm on March 15. They were heading towards Carriacou, aboard the vessel ‘Fingers’.
The Coast Guard signaled to hem to stop by using a siren, but instead of stopping they changed course and warning shots had to be fired.
Paines was seen throwing sacks overboard.
The vessel came to a stop and four sacks were retrieved from the waters which, when opened, revealed several taped packages of marijuana.
Nothing illegal was found on their persons.
The men were taken to the Coast Guard base in Calliaqua and subsequently handed over to an officer of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU).
When cautioned and questioned, Paines replied, “Is not mine.”
Derrick also denied knowledge of the drugs.
Bhola told the officer, “I am the captain, get a job to pick up ‘SM’,” and pointed to Paines.
Connell had asked the Court to impose a reasonable fine and that the boat be used to offset that fine. But after the fines were imposed he withdrew that request, stating that arrangements will be made for his clients to pay the fines and it will be easier for them to return to Grenada on the vessel.
The court noted that Paines had had previous convictions for marijuana-related offences.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne considered the Grenadians’ ages, noting that one was a teenager which she referred to as a vulnerable age group opened to being used.
Even though the defendants did not plead guilty at the first available opportunity, they were still granted the full one-third discount on their sentences.