Jamaican Ralph James gets 2 years jail and an $80,00 fine after pleading guilty of trafficking in marijuana
Jamaican Ralph James has been sent to Jail by Magistrate Pearl Williams for two (2) years, and was fined $80,000, after pleading guilty to trafficking in marijuana. He was arrested, along with two other foreign nationals, on a boat off the coast of Dominica, which was said to be carrying the illegal substance, worth close to 500,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars. They appeared in court on Friday 5th August. James has to pay the $80,000 by November 5th 2017, or in default, face additional six months in jail, to run consecutively with the two-year jail sentence
James, 57, was arrested by members of the Coast Guard Marine Unit along with Vincentians, Alwin Lawrence and Jeffery Stapleton, on a boat about a quarter mile off the coast of Scotts Head on 28th July 2016, at about 1:00 pm.
He told police that he was the captain of the boat, and was on his way to Antigua, but was forced to Dominica because of engine problems. The boat was towed by the police and searched. Eleven (11) crocus bags and one (1) plastic bag of the marijuana were found in its bow. The drug has an estimated street value of EC$419,000.00.
The prosecution, led by Inspector Valda Powell, withdrew charges against the two Vincentians, and they have since been released into the custody of immigration, to be repatriated to St. Vincent. Powell asked the court to seize the vessel.
Tiyani Behanzin and Joshua Francis represented the men. In his mitigation plea for James, Behanzin told the court that his client was remorseful. He asked the court to be “merciful on him” since he was suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
The drugs, he said was of “low grade and was not of the value given.” He said the value was about $300,000, and based on his experience and knowledge as a lawyer, and on the Bench, he could speak as “an expert” and say the drug was “low grade”. But Magistrate Williams cautioned him, and told him that he “was not an expert” in that field. She also ordered that the boat be seized, and the drugs destroyed.
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