Tobago man gets 3 months to pay marijuana-trafficking fine

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A TOBAGO man who was arrested at the Scarborough port in 2004 after disembarking from the ferry with a bag containing 2.5 kilogrammes of marijuana has lost his appeal.

On Monday, Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Mira Dean-Armorer gave Julien Jerry three months to pay the fines previously imposed on him: $10,000 for trafficking, $700 for obstruction and $750 for assault.

Jerry was arrested on February 27, 2004, by a port police officer after he intervened in a struggle between the officer and a woman who also came off the boat, with two children.

One of the children was holding the bag containing the marijuana, and it was the prosecution’s evidence that the woman threw the bag over a fence when Jerry jumped in and there was a confrontation between himself and the port police officer. He was also shot in the buttocks.

The prosecution’s evidence was also that when confronted with evidence that the bag contained marijuana, Jerry said they had “brought it down to try a lil thing to make some money.”

His defence was that he only intervened to stop the police from manhandling the woman, who was being “roughed up,” and did not know her.

Jerry denied admitting to knowing about the drugs and also maintained he was shot in the buttocks when the officer’s gun fell to the ground.

At his appeal, his attorney Keith Scotland argued that the magistrate who found Jerry guilty failed to provide reasons for arriving at that conclusion.

“The failure of the magistrate to provide reasons is fatal, because we do not know how the magistrate resolved the issues,” he submitted.

In rejecting the submissions, the judges agreed with assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal that the failure to provide reasons was not fatal, as they could discern how the magistrate arrived at the decision by looking at the transcript of the proceedings.

In their ruling, Soo Hon said the absence of reasons was not an iron-clad or free-standing-ground appeal on which an appellant can succeed.

She said if the case is factually straightforward and the reasons can be ascertained from the record of the evidence, as in this case, the Appeal Court is not hindered in performing its appellate function.

Soo Hon said in Jerry’s case, it was open on the evidence for the magistrate to accept the case either for the prosecution or the defence.

“Clearly, she accepted the prosecution’s case. We are satisfied the issues were clearly defined (in the record) and we can see how the magistrate arrived at the decision she did. We are not handicapped in performing our appellate function,” Soo Hon ruled in dismissing the appeal and affirming Jerry’s conviction and the orders of the magistrate.

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