Magistrate Gill finds Portsmouth businessman not guilty of possession & intent to supply 24 kilos cocaine
Portsmouth businessman Nichodemus Francis was found not guilty of possession and intent to supply 24 kilos of cocaine. That was the judgement handed out by Magistrate Arley Gill yesterday, when he appeared in court on Thursday. The illegal drug worth $640,800 was reportedly discovered during a Drug Squad bust in Tan Tan on June 23, 2014. During that raid, police seized a Nissan Pathfinder. Two witnesses were called to testify by the police; investigating officer corporal Vivian Augustine, and police constable Terry Balthazar.
Augustine told that court he and 11 other members of the Drugs Squad were on duty, when they received certain information which they acted upon that same day. At about 6 o’clock that evening, they left police headquarters dressed in military uniform for an “anti drug operation in Tan- Tan. Upon our arrival at Tan-Tan, about 7:30 pm, three of the police officers and myself, took up a position in a certain area on the eastern side of the Tan-Tan main road among cultivated flower plants, from where they had an unobstructed view of persons and motor vehicles travelling along that portion of road.”
That portion of the road, he told the court, is “straight” and he had “an unobstructed view of persons and motor vehicles travelling along that portion of road, and at about 8:45pm, I noticed a white jeep travelling southwards along the eastern part of the road in the direction of our location.” He stated that as the jeep, registered TC565, got closer, it slowed down and passed near their location with the left front window down and stopped about 10 feet away.
“I continued observing … while the head lamps were turned off, along with engine,” he remarked. “Francis disembarked the jeep and went to the back, unlocked it and lifted back door open and returned to the front seat. At that time, the left and right rear doors of jeep opened and two males quickly disembarked, went to back of jeep and removed two white bags, each containing something bulky, from the rear cargo compartment of the jeep, carried them to the eastern side of the road, spoke to the defendant and left on the jeep.”
He added, “I could hear sounds like the bags were hitting the ground…I continued observing the jeep being driven southwards. We then approached the men in their location and shouted, ‘police’ don’t move.”
Augustine said the men ran and Balthazar gave chase. “I stayed with the bags, abut I suddenly heard the sound of a boat engine revving away from the bay, the jeep was about 120 meters away and I saw no one got off it,” he said.
Francis’ lawyer, Wayne Norde, questioned how could the police, who were heavily armed, allow two men to get away, and also did nothing while all the action was going on. “The prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Norde told the court. “There are lots of doubts and unanswered questioned that the police can’t explain. The action of the police, he noted, “was not that of the drug squad.” “That case and evidence given makes no sense and ought to be dismissed,” he said, describing Augustine’s testimony as “baffling.”
Magistrate Gill stated that what was said made “no sense” and that the prosecution was “not able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt” as stipulated by the law. He explained that he had to act as “judge and jury” and he had to think as the “jury”; so he found Francis not guilty of the charges.
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