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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Medical marijuana is not allowed and not a legitimate excuse. For airline arrivals, drug sniffing dogs are in the airport and for those who arrive by cruise ship, American authorities in US waters and on the high seas allow narcotics police to search cabins and other areas.
2019. April 5. A corrupt customs officer convicted of cocaine dealing has been ordered to hand over nearly $180,000 in assets as the proceeds of crime. Roberto Marques was ordered by Supreme Court to pay the total sum within six months, with the cash to be added to the Confiscated Assets Fund. Marques, who was sentenced to ten years in jail two years ago, will have to pay $45,000 immediately, with the rest, about $130,000, to be paid within six months. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves ruled that if Marques failed to pay up, he would serve an extra seven years behind bars. The order came after the Bermuda Police Service asked for a Supreme Court confiscation hearing. Acting Superintendent Nicholas Pedro, of the Bermuda Police Service, said: “We welcome this decision and note that we are committed to using our resources to fairly and transparently remove the proceeds of criminal conduct from the financial system of Bermuda.” Marques was a serving customs officer when he was caught with the drug in 2016 and was jailed a year later. Mr Pedro said that the BPS Financial Crime Unit gave evidence that Marques had benefited from his criminal activity over a six-year period and his take from crime amounted to more than $255,000. Assets that were restrained included a Bermuda property, a property in the Azores, a vehicle valued at $18,000 and bank accounts holding balances of more than $15,000. Mr Justice Greaves declared Marques’s realizable assets at $179,240.46 and ruled that they should be forfeited to the Crown.
2019. April 3. A Southampton man accused of drug smuggling was released on bail this afternoon after his Supreme Court trial ended with a hung jury. Edward Jaloni Albouy, 25, had denied charges of smuggling MDMA — also known as ecstasy — cannabis and cannabis resin into Bermuda on September 3, 2017. He was also accused of possessing the drugs — said to be worth more than $430,000 — with intent to supply. But the seven man, five woman jury told acting Puisne Judge Craig Attridge that they could not come to a majority verdict after several hours of deliberation. Mr Attridge released the Mr Albouy on bail until May 1, when he will appear before the Supreme Court again.
2019. April 3. A woman denied importing cannabis and other substances to Bermuda when she appeared in court yesterday. Ranae Furbert faced six charges during arraignments at the Supreme Court. She was accused of bringing cannabis into the island on January 11, 2018, and it was further alleged that she imported a substance containing tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabis resin on the same date. Ms Furbert, 27, of St George’s, denied the charges, as well as counts of possessing each of the substances with intent to supply. Puisne Judge Carlise Greaves set another hearing of the case for later this month and extended Ms Furbert’s bail.
2019. April 3. Four people were arrested after police seized “a substantial amount of drugs” from homes in two parishes, authorities reported yesterday. Police said 18.4lbs of plant material and 6oz of white powdery substance and pills were found in properties in Devonshire and Pembroke last Thursday. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said officers were awaiting a report from analysts to confirm the types of drugs found.
2019. March 30. A man accused of smuggling $430,000 worth of drugs into Bermuda said he agreed to bring in shirts and baby supplies for a friend and had no idea drugs were hidden inside the items. Edward Jaloni Albouy, 25, told the Supreme Court yesterday he was “shocked and surprised” when the drugs were found, and called his friend after he was released from custody. Mr Albouy said: “I asked him if he would come clean. Obviously, I didn’t do it. When I told him what happened, all he could tell me is ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. He just kept telling me he was sorry and he didn’t think it was that serious.” Mr Albouy explained he flew to Britain on August 23, 2017 to visit colleges in Birmingham and a British friend who lived in Bristol. He stayed in a hotel near Birmingham then caught a train to Bristol to meet the friend, who cannot be identified for legal reasons. Mr Albouy said he had expected to return to his hotel that night, but lost track of time and the friend offered to let him stay with him. He added because he had not brought toiletries or a change of clothes, the pair went to a Tesco supermarket to buy a few items. Mr Albouy said his friend asked him if he could take some items back to Bermuda with him while they were in the store. He added: “He asked me if I would take back some items he was going to buy for his godson and his friend, another Bermudian. It was a surprise to me that he even knew any one else in Bermuda.” Mr Albouy said he agreed and the friend bought a dozen three-packs of white shirts, four packets of diapers and two packets of baby wipes. He added he did not pay much attention to the items after they were bought and after two nights in Bristol he returned to his hotel near Birmingham with the goods and packed them into his suitcases. Mr Albouy said he didn’t notice anything unusual about the items and was shocked when customs officers found the ecstasy, cannabis and cannabis resin inside them when he returned to Bermuda on September 3, 2017. He said: “I couldn’t believe there was something inside. I still wasn’t sure what it was, but it was something I didn’t know was there. I was thinking about how it could have gotten there. It went through my mind who could have placed this there. I was all over the place. I thought to myself there was no way my friend would have done something like this to me.” Mr Albouy told Alan Richards, the Crown counsel, he took two large suitcases with him to the UK because he had thought he might go shopping and wanted the extra luggage space. But he said he did not buy much, which left him with enough space to accommodate his friend’s request. The defendant added he did not think it was unusual that his friend would buy 36 white shirts and did not notice they were in two different sizes. Mr Albouy said: “I didn’t see anything suspicious with it. I trusted him as a good friend and I know people who prefer to buy things in bulk when they travel.” Mr Richards suggested that Mr Albouy knew what he was doing and what he had brought back to Bermuda. He said: “I would suggest that nobody familiar with travel and with any common sense would accept these items without question to carry back to somebody they didn’t even know. Anybody with an ounce of common sense would realize that this didn’t add up. You were running a risk that I suggest nobody would seriously take.” But Mr Albouy insisted that he had no idea what was hidden in the packages. He also denied that he told Customs officers that he had bought the goods, or that they were for one of his friends. Mr Richards also quizzed Mr Albouy about dirty laundry in one of his suitcases. Mr Albouy said he was ill on the flight to the UK and had been sick on his pants. He claimed he had planned to get the pants cleaned before he returned to the island, but did not get the chance. Mr Albouy denied that he used the soiled pants to cover the smell of cannabis hidden in the suitcase and that he used a deodorant spray when the second suitcase was opened and the smell of the drugs became apparent. The search of the diapers, shirts and baby wipes revealed about 2,957 grams of MDMA — also known as ecstasy, 1,633 grams of cannabis and 1,209 grams of cannabis resin. The drugs were estimated to have a street value of $236,540, $81,650 and $120,000 respectively. Mr Albouy has denied importation of the drugs and possession with intent to supply. The trial continues.
2019. March 29. Drugs discovered hidden in a Southampton man’s luggage were worth more than $430,000, the Supreme Court heard yesterday. A jury heard that 2,957.7 grams of MDMA — also known as ecstasy — was found in a suitcase belonging to 25-year-old Edward Jaloni Albouy. Those drugs could fetch up to $236,540 if sold on the streets of Bermuda. Officers also found 1,633.4 grams of cannabis, worth up to $81,650, and 1,209.5 grams of cannabis resin, worth up to $120,000. Investigators found two DNA profiles on the drug packages, but the court heard Mr Albouy was not a match for either profile. He has denied charges he imported the controlled drugs with intent to supply. Detective constable Shannon Trott said that, as part of the investigation, he looked into Mr Albouy’s bank records. He told the court that on September 2, the day before Mr Albouy returned to Bermuda, his debit card was used to withdraw money from an ATM at a Birmingham branch of the Tesco supermarket chain in the UK. Under cross-examination by Susan Mulligan, who represents Mr Albouy, Mr Trott said requests were made for CCTV evidence from the store, but he had been told the request was unsuccessful. He added that it was not unusual for such requests to be fruitless. Mr Trott said: “During these sorts of investigations we do make overseas inquiries. The results can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes we get successful returns and some times we don’t.” He said the request was made through the National Crime Agency, and no efforts were made through the mutual legal assistance treaty. Mr Trott explained: “That is a timely, intensive matter to undertake. Things like CCTV are generally only kept for a limited amount of time and when we go through that process, we often end up not getting the footage in time.” The court has heard that Mr Albouy left the island on a flight to London on August 23, 2017, and returned on the evening of September 3, 2017. He was selected for a secondary search and a customs officer noticed the smell of cannabis when she opened one of his suitcases. Packages containing drugs were later found hidden in packets of diapers, baby wipes and shirts. Mr Albouy told customs officers he was “surprised” by the hidden packages and confirmed that he had bought the items from a Tesco. The trial continues.
2019. March 20. A woman was accused yesterday of handling a shotgun, a revolver and almost 500 rounds of ammunition Tonae Perinchief-Leader, 29, was charged in Magistrates’ Court with four offences, all alleged to have taken place in Sandys on July 6, 2015. The charges involve a Taurus revolver, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and 485 rounds of ammunition of several different calibres. Ms Perinchief-Leader did not have to enter a plea as the case will be heard in the Supreme Court. Magistrate Tyrone Chin released Ms Perinchief-Leader on $25,000 bail and adjourned the case until May 1 in Supreme Court. She was also ordered to surrender her passport and report to Hamilton Police Station three times a week.
2019. March 14. A drug mule in the biggest heroin importation case tried in Bermuda was jailed yesterday for 30 years. Josef Vlcek was caught trying to smuggle nearly three kilograms of the drug, worth $9.55 million, after he arrived on a flight from London in September 2017. Vlcek, convicted by a jury’s unanimous verdict on Monday, declined to comment through his interpreter before Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves passed sentence. Mr Justice Greaves admitted that “some will question why, in a case in which the defendant has killed no one, he received a sentence of 30 years”. He added a sentence for premeditated gun murder by a gang member could be 35 years to life. The judge told the Supreme Court: “The addictive and destructive nature of this drug perhaps brings it into the range of those who commit violence. A gangster may have taken the life of one person and affected by his action the lives of several others. I think it likewise with our drug dealers, particularly those who deal in particularly hard drugs. Diamorphine is at the high level of addictive drugs, surpassed only by fentanyl. It is said to be 50 times more lethal than cocaine.” Mr Justice Greaves added: “Although the violence is not direct in this case, it is still as cruel, in many cases, as the direct violence in homicide cases.” He said the case was “the greatest volume of heroin ever imported into Bermuda for which someone has been tried”. He told Vlcek: “In this jurisdiction, drug sentences are particularly heavy. There are good reasons for that. The motivation for bringing drugs into Bermuda is high because the profits are high. Perhaps some of the highest in the world. Those who take the risk to benefit from this lucrative market must take the responsibility of knowing that their penalty will be severe when caught.” Vlcek, 49, from the Czech Republic, went on trial this month charged with the importation of diamorphine, the technical name for heroin and with possession of the drug with intent to supply. He will serve 30-year concurrent terms with time already spent in custody taken into account. Vlcek told the jury he was an artist and had planned to stage an exhibition of his work. He claimed he thought he was smuggling gold and jewels. The three packages of heroin stashed in the lining of his two suitcases were spotted by customs officers at the airport. Nicole Smith, representing the Crown, asked for a sentence of 20 to 25 years, with an extra 50 per cent added to reflect the seriousness of the case. Susan Mulligan, the defence lawyer, argued that sentencing should not be “a mathematical exercise” based on the amount of drugs, which Mr Justice Greaves said was more than four times bigger than the courts had dealt with before. Ms Mulligan said Vlcek was “not a master manipulator” but a lone man “lured by the idea of having a great art exhibition”. Ms Mulligan added: “He is a foreign national who has already suffered being in a foreign culture, no contact with family and no one here to assist him. His time in custody has been and will continue to be very, very difficult.” The defence highlighted the case of Janis Zegelis, a Latvian man jailed for 25 years in 2012 after he arrived in Bermuda in a boat with more than 164kg of cocaine and a firearm. But Mr Justice Greaves rejected the comparison and said Bermuda’s courts always gave harsher sentences for heroin which was “a more lethal addictive drug”. Ms Smith mentioned other cases in which drug couriers form overseas had been jailed and told the court that the narcotics trade had tempted “defendants from jurisdictions afar”. Omar Davy, a Jamaican national, was jailed for 18 years last month after he tried to bring 220 grams of heroin into the island.
2019. March 7. A man accused of trying to smuggle $9.5 million of heroin into Bermuda said he had no idea packages of the drug were hidden in his suitcase. Josef Vlcek, 49, told police in a recorded interview he had bought the bags in an East London market and had seen nothing unusual about them at the time. Mr Vlcek, from the Czech Republic, told police he flew to Bermuda for a holiday, but he had also wanted to find work on the island. He said he did not know how much his flight cost because another man had helped him pay for it, but he refused to identify him. A translator told officers: “He says he doesn’t want to get anybody else involved. He also said he didn’t put the drugs in the case and he hates drugs.” Mr Vlcek was arrested at LF Wade International Airport on September 23, 2017, after he arrived on a flight from London. The court previously heard that a customs officer noticed a bulge in the lining of one of his suitcases and an X-ray revealed packages hidden inside the bag’s lining. Three packages were found in his two suitcases containing a total of about 2.9 kilograms of heroin. As the trial continued, the jury were shown footage of a police interview of Mr Vlcek recorded after his arrest. During the interview, Mr Vlcek alternated between speaking to officers in English and talking through a local translator. Mr Vlcek said he was in London for several days before coming to Bermuda, and had recently spent time in South Africa, Tanzania and Germany. He said most of the trips were holidays, and that he usually tried to find work in the countries he visits. The translator said: “He says he always finds a little job that pays for his travels.” Mr Vlcek said he had intended to stay at a hotel in Bermuda and pay cash, but police said he only had $600 in cash. He told officers himself: “I always find some job. If yes, then I will stay here. If not, go back.” Asked about what kind of work he did, Mr Vlcek said: “I can do anything. I can do gardening, I can do driving. I do whatever I find.” He added that he had done some gardening work in London, but could not say who hired him and that he had thrown away his gardening clothes before flying to Bermuda. Mr Vlcek said he did not know anyone in Bermuda and did not realize he would need a work permit to be employed in Bermuda. He said he had no idea what the packages found in his suitcase contained, and that when he was shown the X-ray he initially believed the package contained “gold or diamonds”. One of the officers responded that he did not believe Mr Vlcek’s story. The officer said: “You are saying that you want us to believe that you went to a gypsy vendor or a street vendor and you bought two suitcases with three kilograms of heroin and flew to Bermuda with no idea how much you had paid for your flight, no idea of how much you were going to spend in Bermuda and didn’t research the fact that you couldn’t work without a permit in Bermuda?” The translator said: “He said he doesn’t know who put the drugs in the suitcase.” The trial continues.
2019. March 6. The alleged importer of $9.5 million of heroin was on edge after he was detained at the airport, the Supreme Court heard yesterday. Susie Williams-Stovell, a customs officer, told the court that Josef Vlcek, then 47, “was sweating and appeared nervous”. She added: “His chest was heaving fast.” Ms Williams-Stovell was speaking on the second day of Mr Vlcek’s trial. She said that she was working at the airport the day Mr Vlcek arrived in Bermuda and that she had conducted an inspection of a suitcase carried by the defendant at about 7.07pm. Ms Williams-Stovell added: “I saw a bulge in there under the lining.” She said that Daniel Cardoso, another Customs officer, had cautioned Mr Vlcek. Ms Williams-Stovell said that she, Mr Cardoso and Mr Vlcek went into a search room, where the bag was inspected. She added: “We revealed carbon paper so that you could see that there was a package.” Ms Williams-Stovell said that she saw a brown powder under the paper. She said that Mr Cardoso then swabbed the outside of the package to test for the presence of drugs. Ms Williams-Stovell told the court: “In this case it said heroin.” She said that she and Mr Cardoso left the search room to X-ray the second bag at about 7.55pm. Ms Williams-Stovell added: “We X-rayed the suitcase and you could see packages on the screen.” Mr Vlcek, of the Czech Republic, has pleaded not guilty to the importation of about 2.9 kilograms of heroin on September 23, 2017 and possession of the drug with intent to supply. Detective Constable Shannon Trott said he transported the two suitcases from a secure storage area to the forensic lab at Southside Police Station the day after Mr Vlcek was detained. Mr Trott said: “I searched the suitcases starting with the smaller bag. Upon opening the bag, I saw a package that was blue and silver in colour that had been pierced and an off-white powder was exposed.” Mr Trott said that he removed the package and placed it in an evidence bag. The suitcase was also placed into an evidence bag. The trial continues.
2019. March 5. The alleged importer of $9.5 million of heroin was caught after customs officials spotted a bulge and traces of glue in the lining of one of his suitcases, the Supreme Court heard yesterday. Takiyah Simpson, for the Crown, told the court that Josef Vlcek, then 47, was detained by customs officers after he arrived at the airport on a flight from Britain with two suitcases. Ms Simpson said: “He cleared immigration and proceeded to the customs baggage hall. where he made his way to the Green Channel.” She added Mr Vleck was selected for a secondary inspection. She said: “During the search of the first suitcase belonging to the defendant, the customs officer noticed a slight bulge and glue residue in the lining of his suitcase.” Ms Simpson told jurors that the defendant’s two suitcases were scanned by an X-ray machine and “anomalies were found”. She said a customs officer pulled out some of the lining in one of the suitcases and removed a package wrapped in carbon paper. Ms Simpson added that the officer pulled back the paper and found “a beige powder substance in a vacuum-sealed bag”. She said that a scan done on the outside of the package showed traces of heroin. Ms Simpson added: “The Bermuda Police Service were called and the defendant was arrested and he was later charged.” Mr Vleck, of the Czech Republic, has pleaded not guilty to the importation of about 2.9 kilograms of heroin on September 23, 2017 and possession of the drug with intent to supply. Daniel Cardoso, a customs officer, told the court that he was working at the secondary desk at the airport when Mr Vleck arrived. He said that Mr Vleck had been flagged for a second inspection by another officer at about 7pm. Mr Cardoso said that Mr Vleck told him that he had travelled to Bermuda for a ten-day holiday. He said that the defendant told him that he was an artist and had flown to the island alone. Mr Cardoso asked if the two bags he was carrying belonged to him. Mr Vleck replied: “Yes, they are mine.” Mr Cardoso said that Mr Vleck told him that he had booked his flight and accommodation the day before. He added that he noticed a “bulge” on the outside of one of Mr Vleck’s suitcases. He said: “At this point I suspected that there was something in the bag.” Mr Cardoso said that he called over another customs officer who pulled back lining inside the bag and exposed carbon paper. He said that he cautioned Mr Vleck, packed up his bag, and escorted him to an interview room. Mr Cardoso said Mr Vleck asked: “What’s wrong with my bag? When we were outside, I think there’s some problem.” He added that he told Mr Vleck: “There’s definitely a problem.” The trial continues.
2019. February 28. A St George’s woman has been accused of smuggling more than $700,000 of cannabis into Bermuda. Renee Furbert, 27, was charged with importing cannabis resin, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol — the active ingredient in cannabis — into the island on January 11 last year. She was additionally charged with having the same drugs in St George’s with intent to supply. Ms Furbert did not enter a plea at Magistrates’ Court today because prosecutors have sent the matter to the Supreme Court. Prosecutors told the court the charges involve about $618,000 of cannabis, $48,000 of cannabis resin and $50,000 of tetrahydrocannabinol. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe released Ms Furbert on $75,000 bail with two sureties. She was also ordered to surrender her travel documents. The matter will appear in the Supreme Court on April 1.
2019. February 28. The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a woman caught bringing acetyl fentanyl — a dangerous “analogue” of fentanyl — into Bermuda. Mandaya Thomas, 28, was convicted of the importation of 92 grams of the drug by magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo last March. But Thomas, from Pembroke, appealed on the grounds that acetyl fentanyl was not listed as a controlled drug before she was sentenced. Acetyl fentanyl is an opioid similar to fentanyl, which is 15 times more powerful than morphine. It has never been licensed for medical use in any country, but it has been sold illegally as a heroin substitute and has been linked to hundreds of deaths in Europe and the United States. Prosecutors argued that the chemical was a derivative of fentanyl, a controlled drug, which makes it illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972. But Marc Daniels, for Thomas, argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove the seized drugs were derived from fentanyl in a chemical sense. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found the chemical was what mattered, rather than the process used to make it. She wrote in a February 19 ruling: “In my judgment, this court need not, and ought not to be misled into a scientific analysis of how a substance was chemically manufactured. The purpose of the 1972 Act is to outlaw substances and products by reference to its final structure and not its ingredients. This approach might also be illustrated by the long history of this court’s acceptance of evidence identifying other controlled substances by reference to its final composition as opposed to its creation.” Mrs Justice Subair Williams dismissed the appeal and sent Thomas back to Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.
2019. February 26. A man found with almost $2.5 million of drugs in his home was jailed for 13 years yesterday. Jamal Robinson, 42, admitted possession of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis resin with intent to supply after a search of his Warwick home. Robinson — who earlier served time for manslaughter — told the Supreme Court he was “very, very sorry”. He said: “I have had a great upbringing and I chose to go against that and follow where other people go. Every time I have done it, I have gotten in trouble. I let my mother down, I let my family down and everybody that has been in my corner. That part of my life is over. I’m ready to do my time and be a productive citizen of this country.” Robinson was arrested on May 11, 2017, after a raid on his Warwick home. A search of the house revealed 293.03 grams of heroin, 405.2 grams of ecstasy, 55.48 grams of cocaine, 1.54 grams of crack cocaine, 1,486 grams of cannabis resin and 9.57 grams of cannabis. The combination of drugs were said to have a street value of $2,456,638. Officers also found $2,150 in cash and more than $20,000 worth of jewellery. Robinson later pleaded guilty to possessing the heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis resin with intent to supply, along with “simple” possession of cannabis. He also admitted possession of the proceeds of criminal activity. Prosecutors suggested a sentence of between 12½ and 14 years for the drug offences, plus an additional three to six months for the criminal proceeds. Mark Pettingill, for Robinson, said his client had expressed regret and that a sentence of about 12 years would be appropriate. Mr Pettingill said: “I know from having extensive conversations with Mr Robinson that he is contrite and remorseful. He is determined to spend his time usefully so he can come out and contribute to society.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said he saw no reason to stray from the sentence suggested by the Crown. He sentenced Robinson to serve 12½ years for the drug offences and six months for the criminal proceeds offence. Mr Justice Greaves ruled that the sentences should be consecutive. He also ordered the forfeiture of the $21,145 of jewellery, the $2,150 in cash and a $9,381 Rolex watch. The court heard Robinson had no previous convictions for drug offences, but was sentenced to ten years in jail for the killing of Jermaine “Red” Pitcher in 2000. Mr Pitcher died after a fight outside the former Champions nightclub on Reid Street. Prosecutors alleged that Robinson and another man held Mr Pitcher as he was stabbed repeatedly in the back. Robinson disputed the prosecutor’s version of events but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2001.
2019. February 21. A mother who admitted bringing $125,000 of cocaine into Bermuda was jailed for seven years yesterday. Deja Anee Richardson, 26, said she knew her suitcase contained hidden drugs, but believed the drug was cannabis not cocaine. She told Supreme Court: “I just want to apologise to the court and my family for putting them through this.” The court heard that on October 26, 2017, the Pembroke resident flew from the island to New Jersey via New York. She returned the next day with a suitcase and was selected for a secondary search. When her bag was X-rayed, officers noticed a suspicious discrepancy around its frame. A further examination of the suitcase revealed 11 packages hidden in the pull handle, wheel housing and the frame of the case. Tests showed the packages contained a total of 522.07 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $125,875. Richardson told police at the time: “I made a dumb mistake trusting people.” Maria Sofianos, Crown counsel, said Richardson expressed remorse for her actions in a social inquiry report and deserved some credit for her early admission of guilt. But Ms Sofianos also said a message needed to be sent to discourage others and suggested a sentence of about 7½ years. Charles Richardson, the defence lawyer, said a sentence of no more than six years would be appropriate. He said the defendant was a young mother who struggled financially in part because of her child’s medical issues. Mr Richardson said: “She was really in a bad position, one that wasn’t entirely of her own making. She knows she has to go to prison. The question is for how long.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said the defendant was reckless to assume the drugs hidden in the suitcase was cannabis without checking it. He said: “She has to accept the consequences of her act. It has to be so.” Mr Justice Greaves said he would give her a discount on her sentence because of her previous good character and early guilty plea. He sentenced Richardson to seven years in prison, with time already served taken into account.
2019. February 19. A Jamaican national who fled the airport during a customs search has been found guilty of smuggling heroin. Omar Davy, 38, was spotted on CCTV taking a package from the back of his pants and stashing it in an already-searched bag when he was briefly left alone. He told the Supreme Court that he had agreed to bring a package into Bermuda after his life and the lives of his family were threatened. Yesterday, after 30 minutes of deliberation, the 11-person jury found Davy guilty of drug importation. Davy was also convicted by a unanimous verdict of possession of a drug with intent to supply and obstruction of a customs officer. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves remanded him into custody until tomorrow, when he will be sentenced. Prosecutors alleged that Davy smuggled 220.88 grams of heroin, worth up to $765,700 if sold on the streets of Bermuda, into the island on July 10 last year. The court heard Davy, from Mandeville, Jamaica, arrived in Bermuda that afternoon on an Air Canada flight from Toronto. He was selected for a secondary search and, as his bags were being searched, a drug-sniffing dog indicated that he had an illegal substance on him. The customs officer involved in the search said Davy appeared to be nervous and was repeatedly pulling down his shirt and pulling up his pants. An inspection of his bags found nothing, but when the officer went to see her superior, Davy was seen on CCTV taking an object from his trousers and placing it in the searched bag. He then appeared to cover the object with clothes before the officer returned. Questioned by the customs officer, Davy said he had to deal with a traffic ticket in Bermuda and that he planned to stay with his girlfriend while on the island. Asked to write down her name, he wrote “Dewight R”. He was then asked for her full name, and claimed it was “Dawnette Geed”. Davy later ran out of the airport, leaving his bag behind, and led customs officers on a chase to the Causeway. He managed to flag down a truck, but a security guard on a motorcycle stopped the vehicle while it was still on the Causeway, and Davy was arrested. Davy told the court that on the day before his flight, he was abducted by a group of men at gunpoint over a $24,000 debt he had to a Jamaican “don”. He told the court the men forced him into a waiting SUV, where they put a black cloth over his head. They then choked and beat him for 20 minutes as they drove him to another location. There, Davy said he was beaten until he could barely stand, then choked unconscious. Davy said that after he was awoken by further blows, he agreed to bring a package to Bermuda. He told the court the men had threatened not only his life, but the lives of his family in Jamaica. The men then drove him to Pearson International Airport in time for his flight. Davy said on the plane he took the package from the laptop case where the men left it, and debated leaving it on the plane. Instead, he said he put it in the back of his pants. Davy said he had no idea what was in the package, and ran out of the airport because he panicked. Alan Richards, Crown counsel, called Davy’s story a “movie script” made up to escape conviction. Mr Richards asked Davy how he was able to outrun customs officers hours after he was beaten to the point he could barely stand, and why his attackers had left more than $1,500 in his wallet if they wanted money. The prosecutor also highlighted that a police officer present during a strip-search of Davy hours after his arrest saw no bruises, cuts or swelling. Archibald Warner, defence lawyer for Davy, said the prosecutors had failed to prove that the defendant knew the packages contained an illegal drug. Mr Warner also argued that Davy had acted under “extreme duress”.
• Update: When the Crown opened its case, it told the Supreme Court the estimated value of the seized heroin was $647,900. During the course of the trial a police analyst gave a revised figure of $765,700, as reported in this story.
2019. February 16. A man accused of smuggling $649,900 worth of heroin to Bermuda told a jury yesterday he was forced to bring the drugs to the island by a Jamaican “don” who threatened to kill his family. Omar Davy, 38, said he was kidnapped and beaten by a group of men over a $24,000 debt related to architectural drawings hours before he was to fly to Bermuda. He added: “I was fearful and I was nervous that if I didn’t agree that they were going to start hitting me and choking me again. I feared for my life. I thought the only way out was to agree and I did.” Mr Davy, a Jamaican national, denies importation of the drugs, possession with intent to supply and wilful obstruction of a customs officer on July 10 last year. He told the Supreme Court he was an architectural draftsman and worked from his home in the country’s Manchester Parish. He added he had done work for several politicians and “dons”, who the court heard were “community leaders” often tied to criminal activity. Mr Davy said he was paid $24,000 by a don for a design job in February 2016, but never delivered the work. He explained he had left Jamaica a month after taking the job and flew to Bermuda in June or July of that year. He said he was wrongly arrested in Bermuda and police seized his laptop and a thumb-drive containing his work for the don. When he received the computer back eight months later, the work was gone. Mr Davy said in the months before his arrest, he was in Scarborough, Canada on a visit to family members. He said he had bought a ticket to fly to Bermuda on July 10 to deal with a traffic ticket, but the day before he was confronted by two men outside his brother’s house. Mr Davy said the men showed him videos of his family and one of the men made a video call and he recognized the voice of the man on the phone as the don. He said: “When I heard the voice of the don I knew in my mind what this was all about.” Mr Davy told the court the men took his suitcases and documents and forced him at gunpoint into the back of an SUV. He said one of the men pulled a black cloth over his head and began to choke him. Mr Davy added the men continued to choke and hit him for about 20 minutes as they drove him to another location, where he heard a garage door close. He said he was pulled from the van and battered again, then taken to a basement and choked until he was unconscious. Mr Davy added that after he came round one of the men told him that he was going to take a package with him to Bermuda, and put an object in a book inside his laptop case. Mr Davy said the men told him to take the package out and tape it to his legs after he got through customs and drove him to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in time for his flight. Mr Davy told the court he passed Canadian customs, but when he was on the plane he considered leaving the package in the plane. But he said he slid it down the back of his pants instead. He added that when he was taken for a secondary search in Bermuda, he panicked. Mr Davy said: “I was nervous. I was distressed. I was worried. Lots of thoughts were going through my mind. My family was on my mind. I was panicked and ran. I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified. I thought of killing myself.” But Alan Richards, for the Crown, said Mr Davy’s story was a “film script” filled with lies. Mr Davy told Mr Richards that he had $1,500 in US cash along with several hundred Canadian dollars in his wallet when he was abducted, but that none of the money was taken. He also admitted he had accepted the job from the don in April, not February as he had testified earlier. Mr Richards questioned how Mr Davy could be badly assaulted until he could barely stand and hours later was able outrun several Bermuda customs officers. Detective Constable Jeffrey Blaire, the officer in charge of the case, told the court he was present when Mr Davy was strip-searched after his arrest. He said Mr Davy had no scratches, bruises, open wounds or swelling and had not complained of pain or discomfort. The trial continues.
2019. February 15. A man charged with smuggling $647,900 of heroin into Bermuda was seen stashing a package in his bag after it had been searched by a customs officer, the Supreme Court was told yesterday. Witnesses said the man, Omar Davy, 38, ran from the airport minutes later and left the bag behind. Two taped-together packages were later found in the bag. The packages contained a total of 220.88 grams of heroin. Mr Davy, from Jamaica, denied charges of importation of the drug, possession with intent to supply and wilful obstruction of a customs officer. Sharjan Rumley, a customs officer, testified that she was on duty at the LF Wade International Airport on July 10 last year, when Mr Davy arrived on the island. She said Mr Davy was sent to her desk around lunchtime for a secondary search after he got off an Air Canada flight from Toronto. Ms Rumley told the court Mr Davy said he had come to Bermuda to visit his girlfriend and deal with a traffic ticket. She said he appeared to be nervous and “kept pushing his shirt down and pulling his pants up continuously”. A search of his bag turned up nothing suspicious but a drug-sniffer dog indicated that Mr Davy had drugs on his person. Ms Rumley said she went to her supervisor twice, the second time to get permission to conduct a personal search. But before the search could take place, Mr Davy fled, chased by customs officers. CCTV footage of the incident showed that after Ms Rumley walked away the first time, Mr Davy pulled an object out of his pants and put it in his bag. He was also seen to cover the object with clothing. Ms Rumley told Archibald Warner, defence lawyer for Mr Davy, that she did not see the package when she came back to the search bench. Mr Warner suggested that Mr Davy had asked her not to say anything, which she denied. Ms Rumley said: “I would have informed my senior officer of my findings and what he said.” Macio Talbot, a trainee customs officer, told the court he chased Mr Davy out of the airport and into the car park, where he said the defendant tried to get into a car. He said: “He opened the door. It was the driver’s side. I cannot remember if there was any one in the vehicle. I don’t believe there was.” Mr Talbot said Mr Davy ran through a gate into an area he referred to as the helipad, near the roundabout that led to the airport. He shut the gate in an attempt to trap Mr Davy, but realised the fence was open on the side closest to the water. Mr Talbot said: “There were many ways he could still exit. There was no gate on the water side to hold him in. He went on to the temporary bridge and flagged down an oncoming truck. I yelled to the driver not to let him in but I figured I was out of range for him to hear.” Craig Burchall told the court he was behind the wheel of the truck that Mr Davy flagged down. He said: “As I started driving, I noticed he was a little rattled. Nervous. He was kind of anxious. I asked him if he was OK. He looked a little stressed. He said he was stressed. I asked him if I could pray for him, and he said ‘yes’.” Mr Burchall said he continued to drive, but before he could get off the Causeway a motorcycle overtook him and forced him to stop. He said Mr Davy told him to keep going. He said: “That’s when alarms started going off in my head. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.” Mr Burchall said the rider — who was wearing a blue shirt and black pants — signaled to Mr Davy to get out. The court heard the man on the motorcycle was Zeko Burgess, who worked at the airport for Bermuda Security Group. Mr Burgess said he was leaving to go on break when he saw customs officers and others chasing a man out of the arrivals area. He added in a written statement read to the court that he got on his bike when he was told the man they were chasing had flagged down a blue truck, which was on the Causeway. Mr Burgess said he rode on to the Causeway, overtook a series of vehicles and forced the truck to stop. He said: “The passenger was hesitant to get out but he did. He said he wanted to jump overboard. I told him it wasn’t worth it.” Mr Burgess said he left the area when the man was arrested by police. The trial continues.
2019. February 2. A woman denied conspiracy to import more than $45,000 worth of drugs yesterday. It was alleged in Magistrates’ Court that Kenneita Wade, 32, attempted to bring about 897 grams of cannabis and 24 capsules of methamphetamine — crystal meth — into Bermuda. The incident is alleged to have happened on December 27, 2017. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until March 4 and released Ms Wade, of Warwick, on $5,000 bail with the condition that she did not leave the island.
2019. January 31. The family of a man shot dead has lost a legal attempt to recover $5,000 seized by US Customs officers a year before he was killed. The Supreme Court heard that Morlan Steede was stopped at the airport on January 22, 2016 as he tried to fly to Jamaica via Miami. He showed officers a forged document that appeared to be from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which said he was not in the Jamaica criminal database. But Steede, a Jamaican national, was denied permission to enter the US after the US officials discovered he had served six months behind bars for drug possession. Mr Steede also told officers he had $3,000 in cash on him, but a search revealed $7,000 in US cash without any supporting documents to explain the purpose of the money. The money was subsequently seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Mr Steede later told police that his wife, Martseeyah Jones, had given him $5,000 to make a down payment on a house in Jamaica for her and her sisters. He said the remaining $2,000 was a gift from his father, Richard Steede. But Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said in a written judgment: “It cannot be ignored that Morlan Steede willfully attempted to deceive the US customs officers about the sum of cash on his person when he was at the airport. It is certainly inconceivable that he was genuinely mistaken about the fact that he was traveling with $7,000 cash.” The judgment, released this month, added: “The dishonest conduct of Morlan Steede did not stop there. He clearly presented a fraudulent document to the authorities with the purpose of making the relevant officers believe that he had not previously been convicted of a criminal offence.” Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “The irresistible inference is that his efforts to conceal and deceive were deliberate and pre-calculated.” Mr Steede, 30, from Hamilton Parish, was shot in the Deepdale area of Pembroke on November 3, 2017. The seized money case was considered by Magistrates’ Court six months later and prosecutors asked for the money to be forfeited. Magistrates’ Court heard at the time that Ms Jones told police that she and her sister, Rita Jones, had each given Steede $2,500 for “investment purposes”. Richard Steede told police he had given his son $2,000 to give to his son’s mother to support a bus transport business. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ruled the $2,000 should be returned to Richard Steede but that the $5,000 remainder should be forfeited. However, the family launched a legal action in the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the judgment. Neither Martseeyah or Rita Jones took part in the hearing, but Richard Steede appeared as the representative of his son’s estate. Mrs Justice Subair Williams said in her judgment that the evidence that the $5,000 was intended for criminal conduct was strong. She added that the conflict in stories about the $5,000 made the claim that the money was intended for investment “unworthy of belief”. But Mrs Justice Subair Williams said there was some doubt about the $2,000 and upheld the magistrate’s decision to return the money to Richard Steede.
2019. January 31. A social inquiry report was ordered on a teenager caught in possession of cannabis with intent to supply. Jah’Dimon Parkes, 17, admitted the offence at Magistrates’ Court this week. The court heard that Parkes, from Pembroke, was arrested in the parish on a separate matter on July 25 last year and searched. Police found a plastic bag with 18 twist bags inside that contained a gum-like substance, later found to be cannabis. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until March 15.
2019. January 4. Two American students were shown leniency by a magistrate yesterday after they said they could not pay a $4,000 fine for drugs offences. Magistrates’ Court heard that first-time visitors Kyla Beckford and her boyfriend, Berlino Felix, both 22, were arrested at the airport when they arrived for a holiday on December 29. The couple’s luggage was picked for a search and the couple told customs officers they had cannabis in their possession. The search found 27 gummies, which were later found to contain THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, as well as about 20 grams of cannabis. The pair, who had planned to stay until January 4, said the drugs were for personal use. The couple, from Boston, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to two charges each of importation of a controlled drug. The court heard Beckford and Felix could be fined $1,000 each on both counts — a total of $4,000. Beckford and Felix, who fought back tears in court, told Magistrate Tyrone Chin they could not afford the fines. Beckford said her parents could not help and she was due to return to college later this month and risked being trapped on the island. She added: “I am deeply apologetic. This is a lesson to me.” Felix said: “I am deeply sorry; this won’t ever happen again.” Beckford added that she would use her experience to ensure other young people did not make the same mistake. The court heard that it was the pair’s first time abroad and that they were not aware of the laws of Bermuda. The court also heard that marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. Mr Chin told the pair: “We have to have something to deter others.” But he cut the fines in half, a reduction of $2,000, and ordered Felix and Beckford to pay $1,000 each before they left the island. Mr Chin said: “I think you have learnt a lesson as young adults.”
2018. December 28. A 26-year-old woman was jailed for nine months yesterday after she admitted a bid to smuggle more than $45,000 worth of cannabis resin to Bermuda. Magistrates Tyrone Chin heard that Sheneal Harris was arrested at the airport with 457.49 grams of the drug. Harris, of Pembroke, at first denied the offence but changed her plea before trial. She told the court she used cannabis to treat chronic back pain. Harris said: “I understand my wrongdoing. I’m really sorry and I’m not going to do anything like that ever again.” She added that since the incident she had passed several courses at Bermuda College and aimed to become a nurse. Harris told the court: “Doing time would really put it back.” Cindy Clarke, for the prosecution, said a sentence of between six months and one year, along with a period of probation, was appropriate. But Mark Daniels, the defence counsel, argued that a sentence suspended in part or whole was a suitable penalty. He said Harris had admitted guilt and regretted her actions. Mr Daniels said: “She took a stupid gamble and she lost.” He said Harris was a young woman who wanted to get her life together after a difficult upbringing. Mr Daniels added a “short, sharp shock” might be appropriate. Magistrate Tyrone Chin also ordered that Harris should serve two years on probation after the jail term.
2018. December 14, A wedding planner from the United States was fined a total of $2,000 yesterday after he admitted drugs charges. Magistrates’ Court heard Yervad Zaratsian was arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled drugs at the airport as he attempted to return to America. Magistrate Tyrone Chin was told Zaratsian, 47, from California, arrived on the island on December 1 for a three-day wedding conference. He was searched by US Customs officers as he attempted to leave Bermuda on December 6 and was found to have cannabis oil, the party drug ecstasy and electronic vaping cartridges in his luggage. Zaratsian told officials the pills were prescription drugs and the liquid was a sedative, but tests showed they were banned drugs. He later told police that he used the drugs to “escape” the pressures of work. Arion Mapp, defence counsel for Zaratsian, said it was a small amount of drugs and had been brought to Bermuda by accident. He added the amount of cannabis oil found was less than seven millilitres. Mr Mapp added that the defendant had admitted the offences and had no previous convictions. Nicole Smith, for the Crown, pointed out Zaratsian had admitted to police he used drugs to cope with stress. Mr Chin fined Zaratsian $500 for importation of the cannabis oil, and $750 each on the ecstasy and vaping cartridges charges. The defendant was ordered to pay the fines before he left Bermuda.
2018. November 29. A seaman jailed for smuggling drugs and guns to Bermuda has lost an appeal to reduce his sentence. Romonito Adlawan was sentenced to spend 8½ years behind bars after he admitted money laundering, importing a firearm and importing cannabis in 2015. However, the Filipino argued he should have received a lower sentence on account of his efforts to assist police and prosecutors. The Court of Appeal however found Adlawan had already received a high discount given his admission that he had smuggled contraband to Bermuda before. Appeal Judge Geoffrey Bell wrote in a judgment: “In the circumstances, it seems to me that Adlawan was perhaps fortunate at sentencing, and the sentences imposed by the sentencing judge should not be varied by this court, even taking into account the evidence he gave at trial.” The Court heard Adlawan had been a seaman on the MV Somers Isles cargo ship when he was recruited to bring drugs to Bermuda in February 2015. He told investigators he made his first pick-up that month, and others in March and April that year. Adlawan was arrested in Bermuda on May 5, 2015 with $228,500 of cannabis and a 40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol with 11 rounds of ammunition. The Court heard Adlawan was paid between $3,500 and $7,000 for the earlier deliveries, and expected to receive $8,000 for the final delivery. Adlawan pleaded guilty that June and later gave evidence in court against Kimisha Perinchief and Jermaine Butterfield, who had been arrested for the same importation plot. He was sentenced to serve 5½ years for the firearm offence and three years for the drugs offence, with the sentences to run consecutively. Marc Daniels, representing Adlawan, argued his client should have received a 50 per cent discount for “additional assistance” given to investigators. The Crown agreed to support “some further reduction” of the sentence on the basis that those who help police and give evidence in relation to the offence they have been charged with are entitled to a discount of between 30 and 50 per cent. However, Mr Justice Bell wrote that Adlawan had been fortunate with his sentence. He said: “The reality is that Adlawan received a discount of just over 43 per cent at his sentencing, so moving close to the top of the range. And there are two features of Adlawan’s conduct which do not seem to me to merit the fullest possible discount. First, he had set out on a course of regular drug importations. Secondly, he had told the police that while he knew the packages he was importing contained drugs, he did not know the type of drug. That could be said to count as much against him as for him.” The court found no further discount was warranted and dismissed the appeal.
2018. November 28. A ten-year sentence for a man caught with a loaded handgun has been upheld by the Court of Appeal. Prosecutors appealed the sentence on the grounds it was too low and said Dion Cholmondeley should have got 12 years in jail. The Court of Appeal ruled the sentence was “slightly on the low side”, but allowed it to stand. Cholmondeley, 34, was jailed last December after he admitted having a firearm and ammunition at an hearing earlier that year. Prosecutors argued his ten-year sentence was “manifestly inadequate” and wanted two more years added to the Supreme Court sentence. Sir Scott Baker, president of the Court of Appeal, said in a written judgment released this month: “This court does not interfere with a sentence on an appeal by the Crown, unless it is satisfied that in all the circumstances the sentence was manifestly inadequate. It seems to me debatable, whether the sentence of ten years rather than the 12-year statutory minimum contended for was inadequate, let alone manifestly so, in the circumstances of this case. We do not think that there is any justification for increasing the sentence of ten years which was in our judgment within the appropriate range.” Cholmondeley was arrested on August 15, 2007, after he was stopped by police near Purvis Primary School in Warwick. He told officers he had a loaded weapon after he was told by police he would be searched. Police found a Glock 26 automatic handgun fitted with an oversized magazine in the waistband of his pants. He told the officers: “I needed it for protection. Guys are trying to kill me.” Cholmondeley later told his probation officer that he had found the weapon earlier that day while drinking with friends. He said he put it in his waistband because he did not want to leave it in his car. Cholmondeley said he still had the gun when he decided to drive to his brother’s house, but was stopped by police on the way. Sir Scott wrote that the story was “inherently unlikely”. He said: “Guns are carefully guarded weapons and not allowed into the hands of third parties, unless the third party can be trusted, or there is good reason to pass them over.” The judge added: “In my judgment, the sentence of ten years’ imprisonment might be said to be slightly on the low side, bearing in mind that the respondent was in possession of a loaded gun and the inference that he had been plainly given it by some person for a purpose, either of conveying it elsewhere, or some other undisclosed purpose.” But he said that given other cases, including a 12-year sentence given to another defendant under “more serious” circumstances, the appeal court was not convinced that a ten-year sentence was not inadequate.
2018. November 13. A Pennsylvania woman was dealt more than $4,000 in fines after she was caught with cannabis and “magic mushrooms” on a cruise ship. Shanna Deck, 37, from Lancaster County, pleaded guilty to having cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, psilocin, an active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, and drug equipment. Deck was arrested on Monday after she was stopped by Customs officers on the gang plank of the Anthem of the Seas, which was docked in Dockyard. A vaporiser pen and a cartridge were found in Deck’s handbag. Asked about the contents, Deck said it contained tetrahydrocannabinol and admitted she had more marijuana. Searches of the purse and her cabin revealed a total of 14.93 grams of cannabis, four cartridges of THC oil, two brownies containing THC and 0.53 grams of a “funguslike material” later confirmed to be magic mushrooms. Victoria Greening, lawyer representing Deck, said she uses cannabis medicinally to treat several conditions. She added that Deck was given the mushroom by another guest on the cruise ship after she complained that the cannabis made her tired and that she wanted be awake for her husband’s birthday. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said he accepted that the drugs found were not intended to be supplied, but that she should have known better than to bring them to Bermuda. Mr Wolffe said: “It still boggles my mind that tourists bring it in unaware of our drug laws, or choose to ignore them.” He also noted the quantity and variety of drugs, adding: “We are not talking about a single spliff.” Mr Wolffe fined Deck $1,500 for the cannabis, $750 for the THC oil and brownies, $1,000 for the psilocin and $1,000 for the drug equipment. He added that all of the fines needed to be paid before Deck could leave the island.
2018. November 9. An American tourist who claimed to be disabled was fined $2,000 yesterday after he admitted having cannabis for medical reasons. Magistrates’ Court heard Sean Finnerty, 48, plead guilty to possession of the drug in his cabin on the Norwegian Escape cruise ship. He told the court he used the drug to treat anxiety, depression and pain after an operation during which he had a cancerous kidney removed. But he admitted neither he or his wheelchair-bound wife, who also used the drug for relief of back pain, had a medical marijuana card. Magistrate Juan Wolffe was told Customs officers found a glass pipe containing a plantlike residue, as well as plantlike material in a plastic bag and also in a clear prescription bottle, a bottle of allergy relief pills and a pre-rolled cigarette in the couple’s cabin, The defendant confirmed that the plant was cannabis and that the items were his. The incident happened on November 4. Finnerty told the court: “I sincerely apologise for my ignorance, my lack of understanding the laws, and not doing my own research before coming here.” Mr Wolffe ordered Finnerty to pay the fine before he left the island.
2018. November 9. A man already serving a sentence for drug possession was given another year in jail after he admitted similar charges. Sabian Hayward, 35, pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with the intent to supply. He also admitted having a set of scales and $3,850 in drug money. Magistrates’ Court heard the drugs, cash and drug equipment were seized by police after they raided the home of Hayward’s mother in Pembroke, where he also lived. Hayward told officers that there were no drugs in the house, but that money from the sale of drugs was in an envelope inside his bedroom closet. Officers searched the closet and found an envelope containing $2,250, plastic bags holding 7.73 grams of crack cocaine worth $2,425 and the scales. Police also found $1,600 in Hayward’s wallet, which he also admitted was the proceeds of drugs. The raid happened on December 7 last year. Susan Mulligan, Hayward’s defence lawyer, asked magistrate Tyrone Chin to treat the defendant as a first offender. She explained that the defendant’s wife, children, mother, and mentally disabled brother, who all live in the same house, relied on him for financial support. Ms Mulligan added: “He has had every blow imaginable delivered to him, and he has likely learnt his lesson. No one deserves to be judged by the sum total of the worst aspects of their lives.” The court heard Hayward was serving a 12-month sentence for cocaine possession after an earlier conviction. Mr Chin jailed Howard for a total of three years — one year for each offence — but ordered that the sentences run concurrently from the end of his present jail term.
2018. October 25. A passenger on the Disney Magic cruise ship who brought bullets into the country was fined $750 yesterday. Tourist Carl Sturges, from Pennsylvania, said the ammunition was in the pocket of a jacket he brought with him and that he had forgotten it was there. Magistrates’ Court heard that customs officers found three bullets in the jacket, which was in Sturges’s bag as he boarded the Disney Magic cruise ship on Sunday afternoon. Police were contacted and Sturges was taken to Somerset Police Station, where he admitted the offence. He pleaded guilty to three charges of possession of ammunition. The 56-year-old said he had a firearms licence in Pennsylvania, but not a licence to bring ammunition into Bermuda. Elizabeth Christopher, Sturges’s defence lawyer, told magistrate Tyrone Chin that the defendant was remorseful. She added: “He wouldn’t have willingly broken our laws.” Sturges added: “It was a mistake. I could not feel the weight of the rounds in my pocket. I did not mean to bring them with me.”
2018. October 5. An American cruise ship passenger was fined $4,000 yesterday after she admitted possession of cannabis and drug equipment. Magistrates’ Court heard Meghan George, 41, from Pennsylvania, George was caught with two bags of plantlike material in her purse by Customs officers as she tried to board the Anthem of the Seas in Dockyard. Officers searched her cabin and found three marijuana pipes, a grinder and an electronic cigarette cartridge holding cannabis oil in her suitcase. She was arrested the next morning and remanded in custody. Bruce Swan, George’s defence lawyer, said she placed the drugs and equipment “without thought” as she packed for her trip. He explained she put the drugs in her bag to avoid smoke in her house from a neighbor's house fire. He explained: “She threw it into her bags in order to avoid the smoke that collected in her room and she didn’t realize what they were until after she made it to Bermuda. She understands that she broke the law and she had no intention of doing so.” The offence happened on Monday night. George pleaded guilty to four counts of drug possession. She apologized to the court and said she was unaware of Bermuda’s drug laws. She added: “This has been the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life and I’m sorry.” Magistrate Juan Wolffe heard that possession of cannabis has been decriminalised in Pennsylvania but is still illegal. Mr Wolffe reminded George that the legal position in the United States was not an excuse for breaking the law in Bermuda. Mr Wolffe ordered George to pay the fine before she left the island.
2018. October 3. A man denied smuggling $647,000 worth of heroin into Bermuda at a Supreme Court hearing yesterday. Omar Davy, 37, pleaded not guilty to the importation of the drug on July 28 and possession with intent to supply. Davy, a Jamaican national, also denied willfully obstructing customs officers by running away from the customs area at the LF Wade International Airport before officers could finish searching him and his luggage. It is alleged the haul was 220.88g of the controlled drug. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons remanded Mr Davy in custody until January, when he is expected to return to the court for trial. Mr Davy was one of several defendants who appeared at yesterday’s arraignments session. Katrina Burgess and Cleveland Rogers are both accused of the premeditated murder of Marcus Gibbings, who was found stabbed to death at a Devonshire apartment on October 26, 2006. Ms Burgess, 47, and Mr Rogers, 51, who were not required to enter a plea, are expected to return to the court next month.
2018. October 3. Two American tourists were fined a combined total of $12,000 in Magistrates’ Court for having prescription-based “medical marijuana” after spending several days in custody in Hamilton Police Station. Serenade of the Seas passengers David Hutchins, 23, from Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ronald Bernard, 57, from Rhode Island, both admitted to separate charges before magistrate Juan Wolffe yesterday. Mr Wolffe told Bernard it was “mind boggling” that he would risk carrying the drug into a foreign country. He fined Hutchins a total of $7,000 for the six offences and ordered that the full sum be paid before he can leave the island. Mr Wolffe heard that on the morning of Wednesday, September 26, Hutchins was disembarking from the Serenade at King’s Wharf, Ireland Island, when Customs officers noticed he had plantlike material and a vaporizer with him, which Hutchins admitted were his. A search of his cabin revealed chocolate, gummy bears, oil and wax, all of which contained active ingredients of cannabis. Hutchins, trembling uncontrollably in court, admitted five counts of importation of cannabis and cannabis products, along with the possession of drug equipment. Richard Horseman, Hutchins’s defence lawyer, said he had a medical marijuana card and took the drug to deal with spinal and mental health problems, including anxiety. Mr Horseman said: “There was not an intention to bring all of that on to the island. He was on a cruise and be brought along more than he maybe needed, which was a mistake.” He told the court Hutchins had been visiting the island with his family as his parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. His arrest meant his family had remained on the island after the cruise ship departed. Mr Horseman said Hutchins’s decision to bring the drugs to Bermuda was a “grave error” and that he had already spent more than two days in custody. Hutchins, who trembled as he addressed the court, apologized and said he should have made himself more aware of the law in Bermuda. He added: “I made a very big mistake. I had no intention to disrespect the island or the court system.” Mr Wolffe said he accepted that the drugs were not intended for distribution, but that drug offences were still serious offences. The court heard that hours after Hutchins was arrested, a Customs sniffer dog alerted officers to the cabin Bernard shared with his wife. When the door opened, officers detected a strong scent of cannabis. Bernard admitted he had the drug, and a search of his cabin revealed 10.36g of cannabis and a cartridge containing cannabis products, and was fined $5,000 for the four offences. Bernard pleaded guilty to four charges, including the importation of the drugs and possession of drug equipment. He said: “My intent was never to bring it on to the island, although I now understand that I shouldn’t have brought it into Bermuda’s territorial waters.” Bernard added he used the drug to help cope with knee and shoulder pain. He added: “I know that doesn’t make it right or acceptable.”
2018. September 11. An American man was fined $2,200 yesterday after he admitted the importation of drugs to the island. Magistrates’ Court heard that Semyon Pustylnik, 30, was stopped by customs officials after he left the Norwegian Escape cruise ship in Dockyard. He told them that he had a medical marijuana card after they discovered he had a grinder and vape pen. A search of his cabin found two glass jars containing a plant substance, later found to be marijuana. Pustylnik, from Cranston, Rhode Island, told officers: “Since you found everything else, do you want the package on my thigh?” A clear plastic bag strapped to his inner thigh was discovered during the search. He told police while in custody that he had a medical marijuana card. Pustylnik added: “I am very sorry, it’s my medication.” The court heard the customs haul, which happened on September 6, totaled about 30 grams of marijuana. The vape pen was found to contain traces of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Pustylnik said that he meant “no disrespect” to the island. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo asked Pustylnik why drugs were found strapped to his thigh. Pustylnik claimed that they had actually been discovered in his pocket, not strapped to his person. Mr Tokunbo fined Pustylnik $2,000 for importing the cannabis and $200 for importing delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Pustylnik was ordered to pay both fines before he left the island.
2018. September 10. Three Americans were charged today with the importation of more than $250,000 worth of drugs. It was alleged in Magistrates’ Court that Julian Mendez, 22, Jahad Waldron, 27, both of Brooklyn, New York, and 31-year-old Margil Mireles, of Houston, Texas, conspired to import controlled drugs to Bermuda. The drugs were alleged to have been seized on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship on September 5. The court heard the alleged haul included cannabinoid oils and a substance called “shatter”. The men made no plea as the case must be heard in Supreme Court. They were remanded in custody until October 1.
2018. August 23. A 48-year-old man denied the cultivation of cannabis and possession of the drug with intent to supply at an appearance in Magistrates’ Court today. Peter Bell also denied possession of a grinder. It is alleged that police found the plants and drug equipment at Mr Bell’s St George’s home on February 21. The case was adjourned until September 5 and Mr Bell was released on $4,500 bail.
2018. August 11. Two handguns were handed into police by members of the public this week. One was found in the water off South Shore on Wednesday and another was discovered in the St David’s area on Tuesday. Police have launched an investigation to find out if the guns were connected to crimes. Assistant Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes said: “Investigations have commenced into both incidents. “The weapons have been processed and are being forensically examined to ascertain whether they have been used in the commission of crimes.” Mr Weekes said that five firearms had been recovered since January. He added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of the public who have assisted police with these recoveries.” Anyone with information about firearms should contact police on 295-0011 or the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477
2018. July 25. More changes to the law on cannabis could be in the works, the Minister of Social Development and Sport has signaled. Michael Weeks said that more discussions on the island’s attitude to the drug would take place — with further liberalization of the law not ruled out. He added: “A larger conversation eventually will come.” Mr Weeks said: “Legalisation is something that’s going to have to be talked about and may have to be sooner rather than later. There’s an almost worldwide trend. Right now, here, it’s medical use, but some countries have legalized for recreational purposes.” Two licences have been issued to local doctors to prescribe the drug for medical reasons. Parliament approved the decriminalization of 7g or less of cannabis last December. Mr Weeks said the decriminalization move was driven by the plight of “young men, especially our young black men, who were highly represented on the stop list. We’ve heard horror stories of people caught many years ago with one joint who, up to now, still have to apply for a visa to get into the United States. Educational opportunities for young people have been trashed. That was a main impetus.” But Mr Weeks emphasized that cannabis was still illegal. He said that the ministry was contemplating a “summer campaign” on driving home the facts. Mr Weeks added: “As minister, I still find myself having to explain the difference. The powers that police had are still there. They can arrest, they can take the drug from you, and if they suspect you have further drugs they can search your person and your home.” Mr Weeks said a Green Paper — a discussion document — to look at drug use in Bermuda and the public’s views was now in draft form. He declined to reveal its contents but said the Cabinet would consider the paper in the next few weeks and it would be published by the end of December. Mr Weeks, a former government whip, was speaking six months after he took over the ministry after Zane DeSilva resigned. On the topic of the change in date for the Bermuda Day holiday from May 24 to the last Friday in May, he said it happened last November, before he became minister. However, Mr Weeks said that a change in the date had been “a project of mine going back about six years”. He added: “I tried to get it passed a few times. Even though it had the support of both sides, I couldn’t get it passed on the floor. When this government took over, that was one of the things this ministry wanted to champion.” Mr Weeks said that as well as attracting more support for the parade and associated events, the change helped more schoolchildren get involved in the celebration. He added: “School attendance the next day had a marked drop when it was May 24. I never had hard evidence for employees, but one can assume that happened as well after all those libations. That was a driving force.” Mr Weeks said: “As a tourism product we were looking at enhancing it and we hope it catches on with East Coast Americans who are looking for a long weekend, because right around that time it’s their Memorial Day holiday. Once every two or three years we’ll have Bermuda Day on the Friday and Memorial Day on the next Monday.” Mr Weeks added that family mediation legislation, also a Throne Speech commitment, was passed in the House of Assembly earlier this month. He added that “litigation guardians” — trained advocate appointed for children going before the courts — were expected to become the norm soon. Mr Weeks said: “That’s in train right now.” He added that changes to the financial assistance system to make it “more 21st century compatible” were in the final stages. The proposals will be reviewed by the minister and taken to Cabinet. Mr Weeks said the demand for help had been “consistent. What we are continuing to see is seniors reaching out, more and more.” Mr Weeks said another group that could get more help was jobless Bermudians coming back home from overseas who may need financial assistance “until they get on their feet”. He added: “The issue with the legislation as it now stands is that they have to be in Bermuda for a year before they can qualify for financial assistance. With the current economic climate worldwide, that’s a challenge that is being looked at.”
2018. July 17. A 41-year-old cruise ship passenger was today fined a total of $1,300 for drugs offences and resisting Customs officers. Rene Rosengart, from New York, admitted importing cannabinoid oil and what she believed to be ecstasy pills — although the pills were later found not to contain illegal drugs. Magistrates’ Court heard Rosengart travelled to Bermuda on the Norwegian Escape to attend a wedding with her husband. Customs officials found an e-cigarette cartridge that contained cannabinoid oil which led to a search of the couple’s cabin. A container of pills was found and Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo was told Customs officials had to struggle with Rosengart, who tried to grab the pills and swallow them. Rosengart admitted importation of the oil and what she had believed to be ecstasy. Maria Sofianos, Crown prosecutor, said: “In her mind, she was bringing into Bermuda a controlled drug.” The court was told Rosengart’s husband had cancer and that they were on their first holiday together. The court also heard that the defendant was unsure about drugs laws in Bermuda as there had been several changes in US laws. But Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said that was not a valid excuse. Rosengart was fined $500 for importing cannabinoid oil, $500 for resisting Customs officials and $300 for importation of what she believed was ecstasy,
2018. July 13. A 37-year-old Jamaican national appeared in court this morning accused of smuggling $647,000 worth of heroin into Bermuda. Omar Davy was charged in Magistrates’ Court with importing the drug and possessing it with the intent to supply. Mr Davy is alleged to have imported 220.88 grams of the drug at LF Wade International Airport on Tuesday. He did not have to enter a plea because the case must be heard in Supreme Court. He was remanded into custody for a further appearance next Monday.
2018. July 11. A man who tried to flee customs at LF Wade International Airport was last night in police custody on suspicion of drugs importation. A police spokesman said the 37-year-old visitor was caught on the Causeway and arrested. He added: “It appears that an arriving passenger fled on foot from the local Customs area for arriving passengers inside the airport." The incident happened on Tuesday about lunchtime.
2018. July 6. Two people charged with a conspiracy to import 1,729g of cannabis on a container ship have had their convictions and sentences upheld. Kimisha Perinchief and Jermaine Butterfield were both jailed for two years for the 2015 plot. Perinchief argued successfully that mobile phone evidence that linked her to both Mr Butterfield and co-conspirator Romanito Adlawan should not have been admitted. Appeal Judge Sir Scott Baker said: “In the circumstances, however, I do not think that it significantly prejudiced the appellant and I am satisfied that, absent the error, the verdict would have been the same.” Perinchief, Butterfield and Adlawan were arrested in May 2015 for a plot to import cannabis on board the container ship The Somers Isles. CCTV footage recorded Adlawan leaving the vessel with a backpack. Prosecutors said Perinchief called Adlawan, directed him to the western side of a parking lot and left the area on Butterfield’s motorcycle. Butterfield then arrived in the area in Perinchief’s car, where Adlawan got into the passenger seat. Police then stopped the vehicle, with Butterfield seen throwing $8,000 in US cash out of the car window. Both men were arrested, and a search of the bag revealed 1,729 grams of cannabis. Perinchief denied any knowledge of the drug plot and told the court she was not the person seen on the motorcycle in CCTV footage. A jury convicted her by a unanimous verdict of conspiring to import the drug, but found her not guilty of possessing the drugs with intent to supply. In her appeal, she argued that mobile phone evidence from the United States — which showed she had been in phone contact with her co-defendants — should not have been admitted. The Court of Appeal found the Crown had not properly proven the mobile phone evidence, but given the rest of the evidence in the case, it was unlikely to have changed the verdict. The Appeal Panel also dismissed appeals by both Perinchief and prosecutors against her sentence. Mr Justice Baker said: “With a starting point of three to four years and the modest mitigation of a previous good character, I regard the sentence of two years’ imprisonment as rather low. In light of the regrettable delay in bringing this case to trial, which was due in part to an unexplained delay of over five months for a decision from the judge on whether to quash the indictment, and the fact that the appellant now has a young child, I do not regard it as, in all the circumstances, manifestly inadequate.” The panel similarly upheld Butterfield’s sentence, which was appealed by the Crown. Mr Justice Baker said: “The case against Butterfield was that he was responsible for organising Adlawan and that he arranged for the mobile phones for himself and Adlawan. He recruited Perinchief because he could not travel to the United States due to his previous convictions. Those convictions were for drug offences, but were relatively minor. Perinchief’s involvement in the conspiracy was greater than Butterfield’s, but he was closely involved with the arrival of the drugs and was also guilty of conspiracy to supply. The judge heard the evidence and was well placed to form a view about the relative culpability of the two appellants and her view accorded with that of the Crown. We do not think that in those circumstances we should interfere.”
2018. July 6. A man caught by police in a drug deal has won an appeal against a cannabis conviction — but remains behind bars on a cocaine conviction. Sabian Hayward, 35, was jailed for two years after he was convicted by a jury of possessing cannabis resin and cocaine with intent to supply. But the Court of Appeal found neither conviction was safe. Appeal judges dismissed the cannabis conviction and replaced the cocaine conviction with one for “simple” possession. A judgment written by Appeal Judge Anthony Smellie said: “When viewed at its highest, the circumstances show no more than that the illicit drug transaction was interrupted before it was completed. Yet it was that completion which would have imputed to the appellant the possession within the meaning of the law needed to give rise to the further inference of his intention to supply the cocaine on to others.” Hayward was arrested alongside Daymon Simmons in August 2014 in a drug sting operation at the Somerset Bridge ferry dock. Officers saw the men go inside the disused shelter and saw Simmons and Hayward pass a white plastic package back and forth. Police raided the shelter and one officer saw Hayward throw a white package out of a window. Officers later found three packages — one white and two brown — outside the shelter window. The white package held 56g of crack cocaine and the others held a combined total of 63g of cannabis resin. Simmons pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs with intent to supply. Hayward maintained his innocence at a Supreme Court trial, but was found guilty in March, 2018. He argued at appeal there was not enough evidence to support the conviction. Mr Justice Smellie said no witnesses saw Hayward with the cannabis resin, only the white package found to contain cocaine. He said: “There simply was no basis for speculating that the appellant might also have thrown, and so must have come into possession of, the packets containing the brown rocklike substances. There was no basis for excluding the reasonable possibility that those packets were thrown through the shelter window by Simmons, who admitted and pled guilty to his possession of them and notwithstanding that the packets were found close together.” The Court of Appeal also found the conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to supply was not sustainable. The court did find there was enough evidence to show Hayward handled the cocaine. Mr Justice Smellie said: “In particular, the inference is unavoidable that when the appellant retained the packet which he must have known or believed contained cocaine despite the onrush of the BPS and then threw it out the window of the shelter, he did so for the purpose of concealing the controlled drug.” The court set aside the cocaine conviction and substituted it with a conviction for handling the drug and allowed the two-year sentence to remain unchanged. Simmons was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017.
2018. July 5. A conspirator in an international operation to smuggle nearly $1 million worth of cocaine soaked into shredded paper packaging has lost an appeal against his conviction. Curtis Swan, 55, was sentenced to spend 21 years behind bars last year after being found guilty of drug importation and money laundering. Swan appealed both his conviction and the sentence on the grounds that he had been treated unfairly. But in a judgment written by Appeal Judge Anthony Smellie, the court rejected both appeals. Mr Justice Smellie said: “This was a highly sophisticated and persistent enterprise, with clear evidence from which it could be inferred that there had been at least one earlier successful importation. And whilst the learned judge accepted that the appellant could not be placed at the very apex of the conspiracy his role, as the judge also accepted, was clearly very significant, and went beyond being that of a foot-soldier.” Swan, a former employee of The Royal Gazette, claimed in his appeal that acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe had not properly directed the jury and had delivered an “unbalanced” summary of the case. He also alleged the jury had been placed under undue stress and inhumane conditions during the trial and final deliberations. But the Court of Appeal found the claims did not stand up and that there was no evidence that jurors complained about conditions. Mr Justice Smellie said: “It is now notoriously public knowledge that the physical conditions at court are far from ideal. However, nothing from the record of this trial rises anywhere near to the level of convincing this Court that the jury’s deliberations were in any way compromised or hampered by the physical conditions at court so as to bring into question the fairness of the appellant’s trial.” The Supreme Court heard that on May 20, 2015, a package was mailed from Panama City, Panama, to Bermuda which was said to be vases valued at $365. But a drug dog at US Customs in Tennessee alerted officers to the package. They found a large amount of shredded paper which had been soaked in cocaine after it was examined. Experts told the court that the paper contained about 2,598 grammes of crack cocaine. The cocaine-soaked paper was removed and the package continued to Bermuda after the Bermuda Police Service were informed. Swan, together with Aaron Johnston, collected the package from courier firm FedEx on May 27, 2015 and gave staff a typed note that claimed to be from the person the package had been addressed to. The pair then went to Bermuda Paint in Devonshire, where they bought bottles of ammonium hydroxide — which witnesses said could be used to extract the cocaine from the shredded paper. Police arrested the two men when they returned to Swan’s home in Warwick. A search of the property turned up pieces of shredded paper, which were later found to contain cocaine. Swan told police he bought and sold vases as part of his business and he knew nothing about the drugs in the package. Prosecutors said Swan’s bank account had a series of suspicious transactions including deposits in “vast excess” of his known income and $72,852 of withdrawals in Panama. Swan claimed the suspicious overseas activity was the result of scammers and the extra income was the result of various “hustles”. But a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine into Bermuda and money-laundering by a majority verdict.
2018. July 5. A woman who swallowed 19 pellets containing cannabis and ecstasy with an estimated street value of $23,150 admitted trying to smuggle drugs into the country. Ashley Mussenden, 22, was caught by a customs officer when she arrived in Bermuda from a flight from London last September, a court heard yesterday. Mussenden, who was 21 at the time, was going through customs when an officer found a pellet containing a brown substance in her luggage. When questioned about what it was, she said: “Hash, I was smoking it out there.” She denied that she had swallowed more pellets and told customs officers: “I don’t have any more”. Mussenden was arrested on suspicion of importation of drugs and was taken to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where she was given an X-ray and ultrasound examinations. A CT scan found there were “several foreign objects” inside her. Mussenden was discharged from hospital three days later and taken to Hamilton Police Station, where she declined to comment during an interview. Her iPhone was examined and was found to contain messages about “getting high” in England. The court heard how she believed she would be paid between $4,000 and $5,000 for bringing the drugs into the country. Mussenden admitted concealing the controlled drugs inside her body on September 8 last year. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo heard that she swallowed 19 pellets containing 185.2g of cannabis resin and 46.5g of ecstasy. Mr Tokunbo ordered a report from the anti-drug abuse Bermuda Assessment & Referral Centre and a social inquiry report after a submission from defence lawyer Paul Wilson. The case was adjourned until September 11.
2018. June 15. Court reports were ordered this morning after a 68-year-old man admitted growing marijuana. James Dallas, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court to the cultivation of cannabis. The court heard that Dallas was arrested after police were called to investigate trespassing at the old prison headquarters on Happy Valley Road, Pembroke. Officers discovered 25 styrofoam cups on a window ledge during their search. Dallas told officers: “They are my tomato plants.” The cups were later found to contain 30 cannabis plants. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe ordered court reports on Dallas because he wanted “to know more about him”. The case was adjourned until July 27.
2018. June 7. A woman jailed for importing cannabis to treat her seizures has been released on bail. Natasha York, a 41-year-old mother of two, was released from custody last Friday, four days after she was sentenced to serve three months behind bars. Lawyer Paul Wilson said it is common for those appealing sentences to be given bail until the appeal is decided, if the courts do not believe there is a risk of the person fleeing the country or committing further offences. Mr Wilson said: “The rationale is that the court doesn’t want someone behind bars if they can avoid it. Sometimes there are many conditions to bail. In Ms York’s case, her travel documents have had to be submitted, she will be made to report to Hamilton police station until she can be fitted with an electronic monitoring device and she has had to provide a $40,000 surety, among other things. But at least she is out and can be with her children.” Ms York was arrested at LF Wade International Airport after she was found with 1,430 grams of cannabis. Magistrates’ Court heard she had been suffering intractable seizures for several years with anti-seizure medications having little effect. Kyjuan Brown, medical director at Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre, said cannabis had completely halted her seizures. York applied for a licence to import medical marijuana, but decided to illegally bring the drugs to the island after her application was refused. Her licence has since been approved. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo sentenced York to 12 months in prison, but suspended nine months of the sentence for a year. Ms York filed an appeal against her sentence on the grounds that, given her unusual circumstances, the magistrate should have used his discretion to suspend the entire sentence.
2018. June 1. A mother of two jailed for importation of cannabis to treat her seizures has lodged an appeal against her sentence. Natasha York, 41, was sentenced to a year in prison on Monday for bringing in 1,430 grams of cannabis, but magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo suspended nine months of the term. Lawyer Paul Wilson, who represents York, said her licence to use medical marijuana arrived on Wednesday. Now he has launched an appeal to argue the full sentence should be suspended. He said: “Ironically she is now incarcerated for attempting to import the very thing she now possesses a licence to have. The licence came through on Wednesday morning. I reviewed the licence itself, and it has been taken down to the Co-Ed Facility. Given the unusual circumstances, I would argue the sentence that she should be incarcerated is excessive.” Magistrates’ Court heard York has suffered intractable seizures and, while she was prescribed high doses of several medications, her seizures continued unabated. Evidence from Kyjuan Brown, medical director for Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre, said cannabis had been shown to stop the seizures. York applied for permission to import medical marijuana, but was at first refused. Mr Wilson said: “Between when that application was refused and when she made a second application, that’s when she did the act. The magistrate must have felt like his hands were tied. At the end of the day, she was guilty of importing a controlled drug. At the time she imported the drug, she did not have that licence.” Mr Wilson said the initial licence, granted last August, allowed York to use cannabis products with CBD, which reduced the number of seizures. However, as of Wednesday, Mr Wilson said he was only able to bring her Lamictal and Dilantin, anti-seizure medications that previously failed to improve her condition. He said: “It was a real horrific situation that she is in, especially when you consider the children have to revive her, or when she’s having a seizure they have to turn her a certain way when she’s sleeping. “It would be dangerous to incarcerate her because she needs someone to be there to make sure during the night she is breathing properly.” Mr Wilson said York has been given a new licence for medical marijuana to allow her access to drugs with a higher level of THC, which Dr Brown said halts the seizures altogether. He added: “She was upset on Monday night. I think that was when things were starting to set in, but when I spoke to her after court all she really wanted to know from me was if she could get her medication. That has been my number one priority since then. We now have the licence allowing her to bring it in. Once it’s here, it can be administered. The harder part right now is getting the medical grade marijuana from Canada to Bermuda because they are quite strict. They say eight weeks, and they mean eight weeks.” Dr Brown asked the Government to help York in a letter sent to David Burt, the Premier. He wrote: “We cannot allow this lady to spend one night in jail without her cannabis.” The letter warned that York could have as many as five or six seizures a day and “will likely suffer irreversible brain damage”. Dr Brown added: “This is not a case of a recreational user who just likes to get high. This is a case of a mother of two who is desperate to live for herself and her two children.”
2018. May 29. A mother who smuggled 1,430 grams of cannabis products into Bermuda to treat her seizures was jailed for three months yesterday. Natasha York, 41, told the court cannabis was her only relief from seizures that were responsible for the loss of her job, her ability to drive and caused her several injuries. She said: “My tongue is scarred on both sides. I walk with pain all of the time but I refuse to give in. I’m sick and tired. The Bermuda Government, the doctors, they need to help me.” The court heard York had suffered seizures for several years, sometimes as many as four a day. York added the seizures had severely affected the life of her and her daughters. She said: “My children have revived me and saved me numerous times. They have been exposed to my mutilating myself and they know if they try to help me, I could hurt them.” But magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo told the defendant: “The law is the law, and the place you need to go to make representations about changing the law is not here before me. I accept that the drugs were not intended for commercial purpose, but the importation was calculated. You knew what you were doing was illegal." He added: “It doesn’t look like desperation. It must have been determination.” Mr Tokunbo said that given the amount of the drugs and the state of the law, a prison sentence had to be imposed. He sentenced York to 12 months in prison, but suspended nine months of the sentence for a year. Magistrates’ Court heard York was arrested at the LF Wade International Airport on May 28 last year after Customs officers found packages of hemp oil and hemp butter under her clothes. Analysis of the two packages revealed they contained 1,430.7 grams of cannabis with an estimated street value of $71,525. Paul Wilson, representing York, said conventional medication had no effect on York’s seizures. But he read the court a statement by Kyjuan Brown, medical director for Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre, which said medical marijuana had helped York’s condition. Dr Brown said: “When this patient consumes medical marijuana either via oral drops or inhalation, her symptoms abate completely. She no longer suffers seizures, nausea and visual auras. Her life essentially returned to normal within minutes.” Mr Wilson said York had asked for permission to use medical marijuana and received it months after her arrest. But he said York acted out of desperation when the application was at first refused. He said she sold her televisions to pay for a trip to Canada and pawned jewellery to buy the cannabis. Mr Wilson said: “She bought so much because she knew she would not have been able to afford to go back to Canada. Her intention was clearly to purchase a sufficient amount to hold her until she received her licence.” Mr Wilson said York had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty at an early stage and asked for a conditional discharge because of the “exceptional” circumstances.
2018. May 21. A 20-year-old American visitor spent part of his honeymoon in jail after a bullet was found in his backpack. Magistrates’ Court heard that the live ammunition was discovered as James Latham tried to re-board cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. The court heard that the bullet was discovered by security personnel as Latham tried to go on board on Saturday. Latham, of Virginia, admitted the offence this morning. He told the court he had been to a shooting range at home before he started his trip and was unaware that the round was in his bag. He told the court that he was on his honeymoon with his new wife when he was arrested. Latham said: “I am truly sorry.” He added the one night and two days he had spent in jail was “very scary”. Latham said: “This won’t ever happen again.” Magistrate Tyrone Chin said Latham’s honeymoon had been memorable “for all the wrong reasons” and fined Latham $350.
2018. May 21. A man who had drug charges against him dropped has lost an appeal to get back $33,770 of cash seized by police 16 years ago. Tito Smith argued before the Supreme Court that he earned the money by painting houses and selling a car, but Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman ruled that the money was more likely the proceeds from the sale of crack cocaine. Mr Justice Hellman said: “Mr Smith produced no documentary evidence that he had ever had a car, let alone that he had sold one. This is the sort of evidence that he might reasonably have been expected to gather shortly after he knew that the cash had been seized.” The court heard Mr Smith was arrested in 2002 after a search of his home revealed cash, cannabis and more than 100 grams of crack cocaine. But the Supreme Court heard the case became dormant and the Department of Public Prosecutions decided in 2016 not to proceed with charges. Mr Smith filed an application to recover the seized cash later that year. The application was refused on the grounds that the money was still suspected to be proceeds from the sale of drugs. Mr Smith said in an appeal to the Supreme Court last month that the money came from legitimate sources but that he could not supply records because of the time that had passed. He told the court the bulk of the money came from painting, carpentry and maintenance work and $8,000 came from the sale of a car. Mr Smith said he sold the car for cash to a woman named Nicky but was unable to track her down. He admitted that some of the cannabis found in his home belonged to him, but said he knew nothing about the crack cocaine. Mr Smith said his apartment was attached to the family home, and people would come through his bedroom on their way into the main home. Police officers also provided evidence that there was no record at TCD of Mr Smith having sold a vehicle before the search and there were no records of payroll tax or social insurance payments in Mr Smith’s name. Mr Justice Hellman ruled that the crack cocaine found belonged to Mr Smith. He wrote: “The crack cocaine was found inside what I am satisfied were most likely his boots and his black leather jacket. There is no evidence that anyone else put it there.” Mr Justice Hellman said he attached no weight to the lack of payroll or social insurance payments and that many self-employed carpenters and painters were in the same position. But he pointed out: “He did not explain how his painting and carpentry business, which he accepted consisted of doing odd jobs, was able to generate the largest part of the seized cash.” Mr Justice Hellman said he was satisfied that the money was the proceeds of the sale of illegal drugs. He added: “I find that explanation for its provenance more probable than the alternative explanation given by Mr Smith.”
2018. May 18. Three men were arrested after police conducted a raid linked to “an ongoing firearms investigation” yesterday. Up to 20 police officers set up a roadblock at Boaz Island in Sandys. A police spokesman said police officers executed warrants on properties in the area. He added the investigation continued. The police swoop came only a day after a shot was fired into a busy bar and restaurant on Front Street. A gunman fired a shot through a door window at Docksider’s which hit the ceiling. Chief Inspector Na’imah Astwood said afterwards that police had not ruled out a gang link to the shooting incident. She added officers were investigating the possibility that the gun attack could be related to an incident on Reid Street last weekend, in which a 34-year-old man suffered knife wounds after a brawl outside the Vasco Da Gama Club. Reed Young, managing director of Docksider’s, said the bar was targeted because people on the sidewalk near by feared for their safety and took refuge inside. No one was injured by the shot, which was fired in the early hours of Tuesday morning
2018. May 16. A 36-year-old tourist caught with five rounds of live ammunition was fined $800 today after she begged the courts to let her return home. Julie Martin, a real estate agent from Kentucky, said she had forgotten about the bullets discovered in her handbag by an X-ray machine as she returned to her cruise ship. Martin admitted having the 9 millimeter rounds without a licence in Dockyard on Monday when she appeared in Magistrates’ Court this morning. The court heard that Martin, who had won the cruise to Bermuda, left the Anthem of the Seas twice on Monday and took her handbag with her both times. Cindy Clarke, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, said the bullets were discovered when she returned to the ship the second time. Ms Clarke said Martin told officers that she had put the ammunition in her bag when she moved to a new office several weeks ago and forgot it was there. Martin told police that she carried a firearm in the US because she had been threatened on her job. Martin said in court it was common for people to carry a firearm in Kentucky. But she added: “I do apologise for being so negligent. I am not typically as forgetful as that. I beg that my husband and I get to go home because our two babies need us.” Defence lawyer Richard Horseman said Martin had no intention of bringing the ammunition to Bermuda. He added: “This was a complete accident on her part.” Mr Horseman said Martin had already spent a night in jail and argued the offence did not require a prison sentence. He added that Martin had now missed the return leg of her cruise but Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said that was her own fault. Mr Tokunbo, however, agreed that a prison sentence was not required but emphasized that the penalty had to be a deterrent. He added that the bullets could have posed a risk to Bermuda. Mr Tokunbo said: “Some people out there would like to get those five live rounds.” Mr Tokunbo fined Martin $800 and ordered her to pay the fine before she left the island.
2018. May 7. Cannabis-infused mints cost a cruise ship entertainer $800 at Magistrates’ Court today. The court heard that Ethan Crystal, from Brooklyn, New York, was a crewmember on the Norwegian Escape when it visited the island last week. Customs officers at Dockyard’s Heritage Wharf stopped Crystal, 25, as he returned to the ship on May 2. During a search, they found a container of mints that had an unusual smell. He admitted the mints contained THC — the active ingredient in cannabis — and that he had bought them in New York for his personal use. Elizabeth Christopher, defence counsel, said he did not intend to cause any harm and that he had lost his job because of the arrest. But Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo told Crystal: “We have to send a message to other would-be cruisers that this is not acceptable.”
2018. April 21. A female drugs mule who traveled through Bermuda on a luxury cruise liner has been jailed in Australia for eight years. Melina Roberge was caught with 95 kilograms of cocaine when the MS Sea Princess docked in Sydney on the last leg of an around-the-world cruise, which included a stop in Bermuda. Roberge, 24, from Quebec, Canada was dubbed “cocaine babe” after she was arrested. She documented her voyage on Instagram, including photographs of herself and accomplice Isabelle Lagace on South Shore beaches, when the ship visited the island in July 2016. Judge Kate Traill of the New South Wales District Court, who sentenced Roberge on Wednesday, said: “She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photographs from around the world. She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.” Roberge, who pleaded guilty to the offence, and Lagace, also from Canada, used Instagram as a travel diary and to post holiday snaps on the cruise, which visited 17 ports in 11 countries. Pictures of the island included captions like: “Bermuda was amazing,” and “Gone to a place very peaceful, leave a message after the tone”. The Sea Princess, which started its voyage in England, visited New York before heading to Bermuda for one day and sailing to Colombia. Sydney was the penultimate port for the ship, which was scheduled to end its 68-day cruise in Fremantle, Western Australia. Australian Federal Police and border agents boarded and searched the ship when it docked in Sydney Harbour. They found 35 kilograms of cocaine in the women’s cabin and 60 kilograms in a cabin occupied by Andre Tamin, a wealthy Canadian man in his mid-60s who Roberge called her “sugar daddy”. The Australian Border Force said the two women had so much cocaine in their suitcases “they did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes.” Roberge told the court that she was an escort and met Tamin on a job in 2015 and he invited her to go on a drug-smuggling trip to Morocco the next year. She added that she had put her freedom at risk for “some selfies in exotic locations and posted them on Instagram to receive some ‘likes’ and attention”. All three were charged with commercial cocaine importation, which carries a maximum life sentence. Roberge will serve at least four years and nine months before she is eligible for parole, when she will be deported to Canada. Lagace, 29, was sentenced to 7½ years in prison at the end of last year. Tamin is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
2018. April 6. A 33-year-old man was yesterday fined $400 for possessing 7.83g of cannabis and $150 for possession of a grinder. Magistrates’ Court heard that Joshua Stovell, whose mother is Bermudian but who lives in Connecticut, was stopped at a police speed checkpoint on Middle Road, Warwick, near Morgan’s Road. Officers smelled cannabis inside his vehicle and found a herb grinder that later proved to have traces of cannabis on it. The offence happened on January 7 last year. Stovell told Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo that he was sorry he had more than the permitted amount of 7 grams of cannabis. Criminal sanctions for possession of 7g or less of cannabis were removed from the law books last year.
2018. March 31. A 24-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the importation of almost $500,000 worth of drugs. Edward Albuoy, from Southampton, appeared in Magistrates’ Court on Thursday charged with six drug-related offences. They included the importation of ecstasy, cannabis and cannabis resin. Mr Albuoy is alleged to have imported 2,956.8 grams of ecstasy, 1,643.4 grams of cannabis and 12,095 grams of cannabis resin. He was also charged with two counts of conversion or transfer of criminal property. The court heard that the total street value of the drugs was estimated at $498,250. The offences are alleged to have been committed last September. Mr Albuoy did not have to enter a plea because the case must be heard in Supreme Court. He was released on bail of $150,000 for a further appearance on May 1. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered the defendant to hand over his passport and not to leave Bermuda without notifying the court. Mr Albuoy must also report to Hamilton Police Station three times a week.
2018. March 18. A 24-year-old man who shot himself in the hand by accident with a home-made gun has been jailed for six years. Shayne James was earlier convicted by a jury of two charges — handling a firearm and discharging it. Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that Crown counsel Karen King had requested a six to eight-year prison sentence, while defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher asked for four to six years. Mr Mussenden added that Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves had taken into account James’s age, character references and reports. Mr Justice Greaves also considered “that there was a marked difference between the home-made firearm and manufactured firearms that wreak havoc on the community”. Mr Mussenden said the sentences of six years on each charge imposed on Thursday would run concurrently. He added that time spent in custody would be taken into account. James was remanded in custody in September last year after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of the offences, which happened in August 2016. The court heard that James arrived at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital at about 1.20pm with a single gunshot wound to his left hand. He claimed he had been sitting on Fentons Drive in Pembroke when a man approached him and pointed a gun in his face. Detectives from the Serious Crime Unit launched an investigation but their findings cast doubt on James’s version of events. Prosecutors said at the trial that James was evasive when asked about the incident and unable to provide officers with a description of the alleged shooter. A police canine unit was sent to the scene after James was questioned in hospital and officers found a pool of blood on Fentons Drive and a spring coil in the blood trail. Police followed the trail and found a home-made firearm — a pipe gun — hidden in a banana tree near by. They also discovered a bullet head in a wall, which appeared to have lodged there after it was fired. James was arrested the day after the incident and questioned by police. Forensic samples were also taken and an empty Winchester .357 cartridge was found inside the weapon. Tests showed that samples found on the pipe gun matched James’s DNA and he was charged with handling and discharging a firearm. James denied both charges, but a jury found him guilty by a majority of 10-2.
2018. March 9. Any move to legalize cannabis must be examined with care, the Minister of Social Development and Sport has said. Michael Weeks said “great pains” must be taken as the island looks at the use of cannabis. Mr Weeks told The Royal Gazette: “If we are to go legal, it’s going to take a lot of study, research and dialogue." The social development ministry has launched a public awareness campaign in the wake of the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act, which passed in December. The Act removed criminal offences for simple possession of seven grams or less of cannabis. Mr Weeks said that “a lot of the average men you bump into” now believed the drug was legal. He added: “It’s still illegal to smoke cannabis, in any amount.” A green paper now being prepared by the National Drug Commission will include a study of the misuse of marijuana. Mr Weeks told the House of Assembly that the awareness campaign running this month “will likely be extended through April and May”. He said that cannabis remained a controlled drug, and it is not legal to “consume, cultivate, traffic or import” any quantity. Police officers still have legal authority to seize cannabis of any amount from a member of the public. Mr Weeks said the law change was designed “to prevent our young people, in particular young black men, from being placed on the proverbial stop list, and having their lives completely altered by virtue of not being able to travel to the United States”. The Act does not guarantee that anyone attempting to travel to the United States will not be stopped, including if they hold a prior conviction for possession of cannabis. Mr Weeks was questioned on whether he had held talks with the United States Consulate on the problem. He said he had not yet spoken with the American Consul-General to discuss the “stop list”.
2018. February 14. A man accused of smuggling the controlled drug fentanyl to Bermuda was found not guilty last night. Craig Lawrence was also cleared by a Supreme Court jury of possessing the synthetic opiate with intent to supply. The Canadian national from Markham, Ontario, had always denied importing the drugs sometime between an unknown date and December 15, 2016, and possessing the drug on December 20, 2016. The jury sent a series of notes to the court during several hours of deliberations. In response, Judge Charles-Etta Simmons told the jury that Mr Lawrence could be found guilty of the charges before them only if he knew the drug imported was fentanyl. During the trial, the court heard evidence from Jacqueline Robinson that Mr Lawrence had invited her on an all-expenses-paid holiday shortly after they had started a relationship in Canada. The jury heard that the couple spent the night before they were due to fly to Bermuda with friends of Mr Lawrence in a hotel. Ms Robinson said that the next morning Mr Lawrence and another woman showed her a stash of drug pellets in the hotel bathroom and told her to swallow them. She testified that Mr Lawrence told her the pellets contained cannabis, and that if she did not swallow them, she would never go home again. Mr Lawrence and Robinson arrived in Bermuda on December 15, 2016, and the pair went to the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club, where she threw up 44 of the 45 pellets. She then gave the pellets to Mr Lawrence, who put them in the hotel safe. Robinson then fell ill, and was rushed to hospital. According to prosecutors, the pellets contained fentanyl rather than cannabis, and a ruptured pellet caused her illness. Robinson admitted her involvement in the plot to smuggle drugs into Bermuda at Supreme Court and had been jailed for seven years.
2018. February 13. A man accused of a plot to import fentanyl was cleared of charges yesterday. A jury found Maurice Martin not guilty of conspiring to import a controlled drug on the instructions of Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons. She told the jury: “As a result of one application that was made and a ruling I made on the law, I’m going to direct you to deliver a verdict of not guilty in respect of Mr Martin.” Mr Martin’s co-defendant, Craig Lawrence, remains on trial. He has denied charges of conspiring to import a controlled drug and conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. Earlier in the trial, the court heard evidence from Jacqueline Robinson that Mr Lawrence ordered her to swallow dozens of pellets before traveling to Bermuda. She testified she was told the pellets contained cannabis. But the court heard they contained fentanyl, a synthetic opiate related to heroin. Ms Robinson arrived in Bermuda on December 15, 2016, and threw up 44 of the 45 pellets. Prosecutors said the remaining pellet ruptured, causing Ms Robinson to fall ill. Ms Robinson confirmed that she had earlier admitted her involvement in the plot to smuggle drugs into Bermuda at Supreme Court and had been jailed for seven years. The trial is expected to conclude this week.
2018. February 2. A Pembroke woman has denied trying to import more than $45,000 worth of cannabis and cannabis resin into the island. Sheneal Harris is accused of trying to smuggle the drugs into Bermuda on May 18 last year. She also faces a further two charges of possessing cannabis and cannabis resin with intent to supply. The 25-year-old, from Pembroke, pleaded not guilty to all the charges at Magistrates’ Court yesterday. She was released on bail for trial at Magistrates’ Court at a later date.
2018. January 29. A man convicted of a plot to import cannabis to Bermuda using his mother’s name on the package has lost an appeal in the Supreme Court. Tafari Wilson, 36, lodged an appeal against his conviction after trial by magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo in March last year for conspiring to import more than 427 grams of the drug, which was found in a package addressed to his mother. Wilson, of Devonshire, argued on appeal that Mr Tokunbo did not give adequate reasons for his decision and that he failed to direct himself on how to handle circumstantial evidence. Acting Justice Delroy Duncan said in a written judgment last week that magistrates must provide a reasoned decision at the end of a trial. He added he found Mr Tokunbo’s judgment showed he had properly directed himself on the issues of the case. The Acting Justice dismissed the appeal and said: “The evidence demonstrates that the appellant showed a singular and persistent interest to obtain the package with which he now asserts he was evidentially unconnected. “In my view, the evidence adduced at trial does support the rational inference that the appellant knew the imported package contained the controlled drug cannabis.” Mr Justice Duncan ordered Wilson to return to Magistrates’ Court for sentence. Wilson was found guilty in Magistrates’ Court in March last year. He claimed that he had collected the package for his mother and did not know what it contained. Magistrates’ Court heard the package arrived on the island from Canada on November 11, 2015 and contained household items including pillows, which were used to conceal the drugs. The court heard Wilson went to the Air Canada office on November 14 in an attempt to collect the package Wilson paid the fees and gave his own mobile phone number as a contact for the delivery. He collected the package when it was delivered on November 18 and put it in a shed outside his home. Wilson’s mother was off the island when the package was delivered and did not return until December. She told police she knew nothing about the delivery or the shipper. She added that when she placed online orders she had them shipped to a United States address. Shipping documents were found in Wilson’s bedroom in the pocket of a jacket. Mr Tokunbo found Wilson guilty and said he was not a “witness of truth”. He added: “I did not find him to be fully credible about his interest in, and connection with, the package or about why he never told his mother about the arrival of the package for her, in which he had no interest.”
2018. January 27. A drug smuggler caught importing cocaine while on probation for heroin trafficking has been jailed for another 12 years. Rudolph Travers Clarke was jailed for more than seven years in the United States in 2012 for his part in a $3.9 million heroin importation plot to bring drugs into Bermuda. Clarke was brought back to Bermuda to serve the last part of his sentence at Westgate and released on parole in April 2014 after serving just over three years behind bars. But within months of his release, the 47-year-old was detained by police in Hamilton after picking up a parcel from a courier company containing 445 grams of cocaine. Prosecutors told the court that the drugs could fetch as much as $117,000 if sold on the streets of Bermuda. Clarke fled the island, but he was located in the Bahamas and extradited back to Bermuda in June. He was convicted this week by a jury of conspiracy to import a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply after a Supreme Court.
2018. January 26. A drug smuggler was caught red-handed with a large stash of cocaine only months after being released from prison for his involvement in an international heroin trafficking operation. Bermudian Rudolph Travers Clarke was jailed for more than seven years in the United States in 2012 for his part in a $3.9 million heroin importation plot to bring drugs into Bermuda from the Caribbean. Clarke was brought back to Bermuda to serve the last part of his sentence at Westgate and released from prison towards the end of 2015. But within months of his release, the 47-year-old was detained by police in Hamilton after picking up a parcel from a courier company that contained 445 grams of cocaine with a street value of $117,000. Although he then fled the island, Clarke was eventually extradited back to Bermuda and this week he was convicted of conspiracy to import a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply at Supreme Court by a jury. He was remanded in custody and faces a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced today. In January 2011, Clarke and a second Bermudian, Kyle John of Hamilton Parish, were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The men were traveling back to Bermuda from St Maarten in the Dutch Antilles, via an American Airways flight. During a layover in New York, customs officers stopped John and searched his bags, and discovered a false bottom in his suitcase. They found the heroin, which weighed 1.2 kilograms; when they opened it up, it was later found to have a street value of approximately $3,952,000 if sold in individual “decks” on the streets of Bermuda. John told a Homeland Security official after his arrest that Clarke gave him the bag of drugs, and he agreed to carry it in return for a payment of $10,000 at the end of the trip. Both Clarke and John later pleaded guilty to being involved in the heroin importation plot and Clarke was sentenced to 87 months in prison.
2018. January 25. A 22-year-old man was jailed yesterday for six years for smuggling more than $200,000 of cocaine into Bermuda. Dwayne George Watson was caught at the airport after flying to Bermuda from Jamaica through New York. Supreme Court heard Watson, from Jamaica, was stopped for a random search after he passed through customs and collected a single suitcase on September 1 last year. Customs officers noticed he shook while he answered questions and that the zipper of the suitcase had been zip-tied shut. An X-ray of the case showed “irregularities” in the handle. Customs officers drilled into the handle and found white powder inside. A further search revealed 11 packages of cocaine and cocaine freebase, also known as crack, hidden in the case’s base, handle and corners. More than a kilogram of cocaine was found, which prosecutors said had an estimated street value of up to $200,634. Watson told police he had agreed to bring cannabis into Bermuda after he struggled to find a job in Jamaica. He said he expected to receive $3,000 and planned to use the cash to buy a taxi. Watson said he was given the suitcase in Jamaica and was shocked to discover later that it contained cocaine. Crown prosecutor Takiyah Burgess asked for a sentence of ten years and six months. She told the court Watson knew he was importing drugs, even if he believed the drug was cannabis, but said he deserved credit for an early guilty plea and his previous clean record. Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher argued that a sentence of five years would be more appropriate. She told the court: “It is a very significant mitigating factor that he thought he was bringing in cannabis.” Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said: “He was to receive $3,000 for the importation of drugs, a small amount when you consider the untold damage that the cocaine would have had on the Bermuda community had the defendant not been caught.” The judge said Watson was entitled to some discount for his belief that he was importing cannabis rather than cocaine, but not a significant discount. He sentenced Watson to six years, but ordered that any time on remand should be taken into account.
2018. January 10. Police uncovered a plot to smuggle fentanyl into Bermuda when a drugs mule fell sick and required emergency treatment, a court heard. Jacqueline Robinson swallowed 45 pellets of the drug before traveling from Toronto to Bermuda with her boyfriend Craig Lawrence in December 2016, a jury at the Supreme Court was told yesterday. The pair stayed at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club where Ms Robinson fell seriously ill after regurgitating most of the pellets and had to be rushed to hospital, prompting police to launch an investigation. Jurors have been told that Ms Robinson admitted her role in the drug smuggling operation and will give evidence against Mr Lawrence, and a third man, Maurice Martin, later in the trial. Prosecutors allege that Mr Lawrence was part of the conspiracy to bring the drugs to Bermuda and supply them to others, while Mr Martin collected the pellets of fentanyl from the hotel to supply to others. Opening the case for the Crown yesterday, prosecutor Alan Richards said: “We are alleging that there was an agreement in the first instance between Mr Lawrence, Ms Robinson and others to import the controlled drugs. “The controlled drug in question is fentanyl, a synthetic opiate related to heroin, and you will hear it is a very powerful drug indeed.” Mr Richards added: “Our case is that Mr Martin was involved in collecting the pellets of fentanyl that Robinson had swallowed and regurgitated, and it can be inferred that those drugs were for onwards supply given the quantity and purity.” Mr Lawrence and Ms Robinson arrived in Bermuda on board a WestJet flight from Canada on December 15, 2016. Mr Richards told jurors that the couple had originally planned to stay at the Windsong Guest Apartments, but ended up at the Hamilton Princess Hotel because they had not made a reservation. “It is our case that they were accompanied on that journey to the Windsong apartments by Mr Martin, who is a resident in Bermuda, although he did not travel in the same car,” he added. “That was the start of his involvement.” Ms Robinson fell seriously ill on December 20, 2016, while at the Hamilton Princess, having regurgitated 44 of the 45 pellets she had swallowed, the court heard. Former hotel employee, Gene-Anne Bean, described attending the couple’s room and seeing a woman sprawled across a chair on the balcony. “I asked the hotel’s head of security whether she was dead. He said he was not sure but that paramedics were on their way,” Ms Bean said. “I felt for a pulse in her neck. I could not feel one. She was puffy and swollen. I went into the bathroom to get a cloth, I wet the towel and dabbed it around her neck. Then the paramedics came.” Mr Richards told the Supreme Court that Mr Martin was also involved in securing the couple accommodation at the Hamilton Princess. He said: “We say that clearly the plan was for Robinson to stay there with Lawrence, with whom she was to some extent in a relationship, and pass the pellets of fentanyl that she consumed. Lawrence was involved in the process of cleaning them up and arranging for them to be collected. Martin was the person who came to the room on a number of occasions to collect the capsules.” Prosecutors said that one of the pellets containing fentanyl must have ruptured causing Ms Robinson to become seriously ill. Mr Lawrence was also taken to hospital for “ill effects from exposure to the fentanyl”; although his condition was less severe. Mr Lawrence denies conspiracy to import a controlled drug and also conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. Mr Martin denies conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. The case continues.
2018. January 9. A man yesterday denied the gun murder of Perry Puckerin Jr. Jeremiah Dill, 34, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to charges of premeditated murder and using a firearm to commit murder. Mr Dill, from Pembroke, was remanded in custody for a further court appearance next Monday. Mr Puckerin, 34, was shot in Hamilton Parish Workman’s Club in January 2010. Josef Vleck also appeared at the arraignments session. Mr Vleck denied the importation of $8.5 million of heroin to the island on September 23 last year. The 47-year-old, a resident of the Czech Republic, also denied possession of the drugs with intent to supply. He is expected to return to the Supreme Court for trial on March 19. Barry Richards denied a charge of causing grievous bodily harm by driving without due care and attention on September 17 last year. Mr Richards is also expected to return to the Supreme Court next Monday.
2018. January 9. Court reports were ordered on a man who admitted having cocaine and drug equipment. Magistrates’ Court heard that Nelson Pacheco, 32, was stopped by police while driving along Reid Street on February 9 last year. The officers found several plastic twists containing white powder under his motorbike seat. Officer’s later searched Pacheco’s Hamilton Parish home and found a digital scale and a red metal grinder. Lab tests later confirmed that the twists contained 0.41g of cocaine and the scale and the grinder both had traces of cannabis. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo adjourned sentencing until the end of next month and ordered a Social Inquiry Report and a drug assessment on Pacheco. Pacheco was released on $3,000 bail and ordered to observe drug treatment court.
2018. January 4. Two men were charged with possession of $67,000 worth of heroin yesterday. Paul Smith Jr, 20, of Pembroke, and Judah Roberts, 22, of Smiths, pleaded not guilty to possessing 25.6g of the drug. They also pleaded not guilty to possession of marijuana. The two chose to have the case tried in Magistrates’ Court. A third man charged in connection with the case, 22-year-old Kyle Smith, of Pembroke, did not appear in court. Both men were released on $20,000 bail with the condition they report to police three times a week before next appearing in court on January 17.
2017. December 29. A Pembroke man caught with a small quantity of cannabis and scales was yesterday fined $1,800. Michael Clamens was stopped on Gibbs Hill in Southampton on May 11 after police spotted him driving erratically. Officers arrested the 40-year-old on suspicion of impaired driving after smelling intoxicants on his breath and noticing he was unsteady on his feet. When Clamens was searched, police discovered two twists of cannabis in his pockets, more than $200 in cash and a set of scales. Clamens admitted possessing cannabis which was intended for supply and possessing scales for use in connection with the preparation of a controlled drug. Clamens told the court: “The whole situation was just a reckless situation. I do apologize.” Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo imposed a fine of $1,500 for possession of cannabis and a $300 fine for possession of the scales. The fines must be paid by January 31.
2017. December 21. A talented young footballer who was caught with a small amount of cannabis in has possession has been given a conditional discharge. Kamali Davis was with several friends in a car driving along Kindley Field on January 1 this year when the vehicle was stopped by police. Officers searched the passengers due to the smell of marijuana and Davis, 19, was taken back to Hamilton Police Station. A small wrap of cannabis, which weighed just over four grams, was found on Davis after a search. Davis, who has no previous convictions, later pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo imposed a 12-month conditional discharge on the teenager on Tuesday because of his early guilty plea, the small amount of the drug seized and his lack of previous convictions. Davis apologized for his actions and said he had learnt from his mistake.
2017. December 15. Royal Gazette Editorial. "Just in case anyone out there is of the belief that we have lost our minds and legalized cannabis in Bermuda, get off whatever it is you have been smoking — or drinking. The decriminalization of cannabis is about to come into law for the specific purpose of decriminalizing our young men; in particular, our young black men. But under no uncertain terms is this country giving them or anyone else a free pass to be skanking up and down our streets on a conscious high. Cannabis is illegal in Bermuda and long shall it remain illegal, save for the possibility of medicinal use being cleared in future for those who absolutely need it. Until such time, the police are well within their right to disrupt the lives of anyone found in possession of a drug that has brought more negativity into our lives — see the virtual manual on why gangs exist in Bermuda and the fallout from their existence — than it has brought positivity. The only difference the change to the law brings is that they will not be hauling offenders in front of the courts when they have been caught in possession of anything less than seven grams. The key word to take from the previous sentence, though, is “offenders”, for that is what they are. The very same arguments that have been presented for the raising of the limit should be the reasons that our young men shouldn’t be delving into drug use in the first place. It is quite rich to say job opportunities, school opportunities and opportunities to travel have been taken away from those who have criminal records as a result of a cannabis conviction. But not enough is said of them avoiding the drug altogether — especially when the risks have been made evidently clear over generations. This is not a new drug. Nor are the penalties new. So why the repetitive moaning and groaning of an unjust system that targets our young black men when our young black men should have the sense to know that what they are doing is frowned upon by the law and presents worst-case scenarios that can have lasting effect. To look death in the face and still try to cheat it is as insane as some of the driving that can be found on our roads — most of it by the same people, no doubt. One of the first acts that Larry Mussenden put into effect when he replaced Rory Field as Director of Public Prosecutions in March 2016 was to outline how the country can help our young men who are caught up in cannabis use/abuse, while also giving warning by way of a “three strikes” regulation that could land offenders back in front of a magistrate — the very thing that the new legislation was drafted to prevent. So just for clarity, here are the key points to note when our “young black men”, or any Bermuda resident for that matter, are caught with cannabis:
On a third arrest for possession, a caution may be granted on the following conditions:
So there appears nothing to suggest in these regulations that drug offenders are getting an easy ride; it is just that duty police officers should not view this as yet another reason to turn a blind eye when the smokers’ brigade is stinking up another very public social gathering, ie, football match, cricket match, concert, etc. They are committing a crime and should be dealt with accordingly. And in the instances where they are found with in excess of seven grams, possession with intent to supply can be offered as a charge in front of a magistrate. So there you have it. Try walking down Front Street in this “New Bermuda” with a spliff hanging out of the corner of your mouth at your peril. Other than stinking up the joint — pun intended — a first strike awaits, as long as our police service are not driven to distraction by a contact high."
2017. December 14. A man sentenced to 12 years behind bars for possession of a firearm has lost an appeal against his conviction. Eston Joell, 48, argued that he had been ambushed by new evidence in the middle of the trial, and that the jury should not have heard about his previous conviction for lying to police. Joell’s earlier Supreme Court trial heard that on September 1, 2015, police had surveillance on Joell’s co-accused, Lekan Scott. Scott visited Joell’s home that day and left after 12 minutes. Scott was then involved in a collision with another motorcycle on Middle Road in Paget and fled the area on foot, leaving his belongings behind. Among the items was a Colt 45 handgun with five rounds of .45 caliber ammunition, which was later found to have Joell’s DNA on it. The next day, police searched Joell’s home and found several items in a “secret room” attached to his bedroom, including fourteen rounds of hollow point small-caliber ammunition and 38 rifle rounds. Scott told police when arrested that Joell had given him an item to take to the Botanical Gardens, where it was to be collected by someone else. Joell, however, said he had no knowledge of the firearm or the contents of the secret room, but a jury found him guilty of possessing both a firearm and ammunition. He later launched an appeal and argued a range of points including that the jury should not have heard evidence that, years earlier, he was convicted of giving police false information. The conviction was shown to the court by Scott’s counsel after Detective Sergeant Kenton Trott, the officer of the case, said he was not aware of any previous convictions against Joell. Sergeant Trott later said that while the original record had been destroyed, the copy of the conviction presented to the court was accurate. Lawyer Susan Mulligan, representing Joell, said that the information was more prejudicial than probative and should not have gone before the jury. However, in their judgment, the Appeals Panel found that the co-defendant had the right to bring the conviction to the jury’s attention. “Had his 1991 conviction been disclosed to the appellant at the same time as it was disclosed to the co-defendant, the element of surprise would have been avoided, but the co-defendant would still have been permitted to introduce it,” the judgment said. “No details were available of the conviction and the appellant was otherwise a person of previous good character.” Regarding the secret room, early in the trial officers told the court that they did not notice any evidence that the room had been locked. Giving evidence on the stand, Joell repeatedly said that there were no locks on the door to the room. However, prosecutors later presented the court with photographs showing a pair of locks on the inside of the door. While counsel for Joell argued that the picture should not have been admitted, the panel wrote: “The evidence of the photograph was properly admitted because of the appellant’s unforeseen assertions that there were no locks on the room.” The panel also dismissed complaints about the trial judge’s directions to the jury and handling of CCTV evidence during the trial.
2017. December 13. Legislation to decriminalize small quantities of cannabis tonight won universal support from senators. The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act will decriminalize possession of less than 7 grammes of cannabis - but police will still be able to seize any amount of cannabis. The Act was endorsed by Government and Opposition senators, as well as independent senators, as it was debated this evening. Progressive Labour Party MP Jason Hayward said: “What we are doing is not promoting drug use and we are not encouraging young persons to use cannabis. We want to further the education regarding drug abuse in our society to protect our young persons. We plan to take a full review of drug policies in Bermuda through a Green Paper.” Opposition Senate Leader Nandi Outerbridge said that the new Bill would be supported by the One Bermuda Alliance and confirmed that it did not make it legal to smoke cannabis. Independent senators Michelle Simmons and James Jardine both spoken in support of the Bill. Ms Simmons said it was “long overdue”. The minister will also draw up regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught with the drug under the new legislation. A similar Bill was debated and approved by the House of Assembly in May, but the legislation never reached the Senate because of the General Election. Both Bills aimed to decriminalize possession of less than 7 grammes.
2017. December 13. Decriminalization of cannabis must be followed up with further laws and programmes to change Bermuda’s drug culture, according to an anti-racism charity. Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda welcomed the passing of legislation by MPs last weekend, which it said would help to lower conviction rates among young people. But president Lynne Winfield said legalizing cannabis and providing services including detox and therapeutic communities would make a more meaningful impact. Ms Winfield said: “Decriminalisation is an important first step and goes some way to ensure that the criminalisation of our youth is reduced. However, a more holistic approach including legalisation will transform lives and society. It is only a combination of changes to the law combined with services such as detox, therapeutic communities, destigmatisation, employment opportunities and education that will transform the drug culture in Bermuda and how the criminal justice system and health system respond.” According to the United States’ National Institute on Drug Abuse, medical detoxification — the first step of addiction treatment — safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. Therapeutic communities are a common form of long-term residential treatment for substance use disorders. Curb, which advocated for legalizing the drug in its 2017 Racial Justice Platform and in its submission to the Cannabis Reform Collaborative in 2014, chimed in after the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act 2017 was passed in the House of Assembly in the early hours of Saturday morning. Ms Winfield highlighted Portugal as a country that combined legalisation with other measures. She said: “Portugal’s ongoing 17-plus year success with their programme of legalisation combined with treatment continues to provide statistics that prove that a focus on drug treatment programmes and funds for job programmes produce positive results for the community and individual. If the idea when talking about addiction is to understand that it is a chronic disease, a health issue, then to move it out of Bermuda’s prison system is a clear improvement and from a mental health perspective allows society to drop the stigma.” Activist Stratton Hatfield, of the Cannabis Reform Collaborative, also applauded the move as a “good step in the right direction”, but said it was long overdue. He added: “It’s my hope that less people are going to be dragged through our justice system for possession of a small amount of cannabis. In particular, it’s my hope that young black males will not be dragged through the court system for simple possession.” Mr Hatfield said many countries had recognized that the “war on drugs” had failed and that substance use and abuse required a health-centered approach. He added: “People that use substances should be seen as patients that should be treated and cured as opposed to criminals that should be convicted and prosecuted.” And although Mr Hatfield added that the move was necessary, he said the Bill fell short “on establishing the necessity for a long-term plan towards a regulated and controlled market”. Mr Hatfield said the CRC’s report An Analysis of Cannabis Reform in Bermuda in 2014 “outlined the need for us to create something that was culturally appropriate for Bermuda”, with a focus on drug prevention and moving towards a regulated and controlled market. Mr Hatfield added that such a market would have quality control, price control and distribution control and it would also be able to limit minors from using cannabis. He said: “You also have a way to generate revenue and to ultimately lead by example.. The decriminalization model did not address some of his key points, specifically quality control, distribution and cultivation." He also highlighted the need for more public education. “So many people are very confused not only about the medicinal qualities of the plant, but more so what would be considered appropriate for use — we discouraged public use, as an example. And, if anything, we suggested that in a decriminalization model, you could possess up to a certain amount but you could also cultivate on your private property as long as you had a permit.” The legislation, tabled by social development and sports minister Zane DeSilva, was designed to decriminalize possession of less than 7 grams of cannabis. But police will still be able to seize any amount of cannabis and the minister will draw up regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught with the drug. The Director of Public Prosecutions can also still proceed with charges if there is evidence the drugs were intended for supply. The Bill must be backed by the Senate and approved by the Governor before it becomes law. A similar Bill was debated and approved by the House of Assembly in May, but the legislation never reached the Senate because of the General Election.
2017. December 9. A Bill to decriminalize small quantities of cannabis was passed in the House of Assembly last night. The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act, tabled by Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, was designed to decriminalize possession of less than 7 grammes of cannabis. But police will still be able to seize any amount of cannabis. The minister will also draw up regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught with the drug. A similar Bill was debated and approved by the House of Assembly in May, but the legislation never reached the Senate because of the General Election. Both Bills aimed to decriminalize possession of less than 7 grammes. But the latest specifies that the Director of Public Prosecutions can still proceed with charges if there is evidence the drugs were intended for supply. The Health Insurance Amendment Act 2017 and the Price Commission Amendment Act 2017 were also passed. In addition, consideration of the Constitution of Bermuda (Constituency Boundaries) Order 2017 was approved.
2017. December 4. A new Bill to decriminalize small quantities of cannabis was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday. The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act was formally proposed by Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport. The Bill would decriminalize quantities of cannabis less than 7 grams. However, the Bill states police will still have the authority to seize any amount of cannabis, and the minister shall make regulations to provide for substance abuse education or treatment for those found with the drug. A similar Bill was debated and approved by the House of Assembly in May, but the legislation never reached the Senate due to the timing of the General Election. While both pieces of legislation were aimed at decriminalizing quantities of cannabis less than 7 grams, the latest Bill specifies that the Director of Public Prosecutions can still proceed with charges if there is evidence the drugs were intended for supply. The new legislation also lacks a commencement date.
2017. December 2. A man who tried to smuggle nearly $250,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda was jailed for 7½ years yesterday. Raza Mirza was caught as he came through customs at LF Wade International Airport with the drugs hidden in the lining of his bag. Mirza, 22, arrived in Bermuda from Canada on June 9 this year. He was questioned by customs officers and claimed he had come to the island for “the carnival”. Authorities carried out forensic checks on his Samsonite bag, which showed the presence of cocaine. A search revealed five ziplock bags of cocaine in the lining of the case. Further analysis confirmed that the bags contained nearly one kilogram of cocaine with a street value of $233,000. Police later trawled through the Canadian national’s mobile phones, which contained several references to drugs. In one exchange, an individual called Andrew asked him: “Do you move white?” Mirza replied: “Yes.” Mirza had earlier pleaded guilty to the importation of drugs. He told the court: “This was a really big mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am really sorry for what I have done. My family is now having to deal with it all now and my mom is very sick. It was sheer stupidity. I was not thinking about what I was doing.” The court heard that Mirza had no previous convictions in Bermuda or Canada. Mirza’s lawyer Vaughan Caines told the court his client took full responsibility for his actions and stood before the court “contrite and embarrassed”. Mr Caines said: “Here is a young man who was cash-strapped at the time and needed the money. He ultimately is sorry for his actions and his desperate attempt to make income.” Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said the number of drug importation cases was “disturbing”. He added: “One really wonders if the message of the court is being sent out to other offenders. The court must however continue to mete out sentences which send a clear and unequivocal message.”
2017. November 28. A 37-year-old Pembroke man was jailed for a year yesterday for growing cannabis. David Burnell Adams pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court to the cultivation of the plants before February 27 last year. Prosecutor Carrington Mahoney told the court that 57 plants were discovered in a St Monica’s Road home after police obtained a search warrant. He added that Adams, who was charged with another man who was not in court, turned himself in and admitted operating a grow house when interviewed by police. In court, Adams said only two of the plants were “big”. But magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said even the “small” plants were still cannabis and he sentenced Adams to 12 months behind bars.
2017. November 20. A mother’s conviction for money-laundering has been quashed by the Court of Appeal — but her son’s sentence for running a drug smuggling operation was increased by six years. Denise Morris was given a 12-month suspended prison term earlier this year after a jury found her guilty of possessing more than $15,000 in criminal proceeds that prosecutors said her son, Damon, had earned from drug dealing. Ms Morris, 55, appealed against her conviction and the Crown appealed against the 12-year sentence given to Damon Morris on the grounds it was too low. Damon Morris, 26, was initially jailed for 12 years for orchestrating a major drug smuggling operation to import large quantities of heroin and cocaine into Bermuda. On Friday, the Court of Appeal overturned Ms Morris’s conviction and ruled there was no evidence to suggest that the $15,000 found in her bedroom closet was the proceeds of crime. The panel also found that trial Judge Charles Etta Simmons had erred by not dismissing the charge against Ms Morris at the end of the prosecution’s case. The appeal judges also ruled that Mrs Justice Simmons should have added an extra 50 per cent to Damon Morris’s prison term due to the seriousness of the drug offences and increased his sentence to 18 years. Jurors heard at the original Supreme Court trial that in December 2015 an airline passenger was stopped as he arrived at LF Wade International Airport. An X-ray revealed that he had swallowed several items that he later excreted and were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of $253,380. Police later arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs after an investigation. Officers also found 49.97 grams of cocaine and 10.14 grams of cocaine, with a combined value of $18,800 during the arrest. In addition, they seized $15,210 found in Ms Morris’s bedroom. A jury found Damon Morris guilty of conspiracy to import heroin, possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of drug equipment after a seven week trial. Ms Morris was acquitted of the drugs offences, but found guilty of possessing criminal proceeds.
2017. November 17. A 24-year-old drug trafficker was jailed yesterday for 11 years after trying to smuggle nearly $500,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda. Charmari Burns was caught red-handed with the drugs hidden in secret compartments in his luggage as he arrived at LF Wade International Airport last year. Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said in Supreme Court when he passed sentence that the prevalence of drugs in Bermuda had torn apart the social fabric of the community. He added: “It is at the core of many of our social ills. Those who import drugs do so with scant regard for the results of their actions. Families have been destroyed and dreams have been dashed. Sentences must be serious enough to deter.” The court heard that Burns of Friswell’s Hill, Pembroke, had left Bermuda on October 9, last year and traveled to Trinidad and Tobago through the United States. More than $10,000 was transferred into his bank account while he was away — and a large part of that sum was withdrawn from cash points in the Caribbean. Burns returned to Bermuda on October 22 last year through New York and was detained after a police sniffer dog alerted customs officers to traces of contraband on his two bags. The suitcases were searched and found to contain nearly 1.7kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $465,607. The drugs were stashed in various parts of the bags including the wheel wells, the handles and the lining. Burns was interviewed by police but answered “no comment” to all questions before he later pleaded guilty to importing the drugs into Bermuda. Yesterday he apologized for his actions, and specifically said sorry to his mother. He added: “I am hoping to come out of jail a better person, and will stick to the guidelines.” Defence lawyer Liz Christopher told the Supreme Court that Burns had felt he had “no other choice” but to take part in the smuggling operation. She said: “This was the worst decision of his life. He feels ashamed at having not followed the example his mother set. He is a guy that has been trying for a long, long time.”
2017. November 16. A Pembroke man caught with 1.99 grammes of cocaine has been fined $1,500. Dahlano Simons admitted having the drug on him at the Bermuda Bistro at the Beach in Pembroke on June 3. Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday that police approached the 29-year-old after they were alerted to a short black male suspected of selling drugs on the porch of the restaurant. Simons was taken to Hamilton Police Station where officers found a clear plastic bag containing five twists of white powder in his boxers. The white powder was analyzed and found to contain 55 per cent cocaine. Simons, who has similar previous convictions, told the court that he had been dealing with family problems at the time and the drugs were for his personal use. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo handed him a $1,000 fine and because cocaine is a Schedule 5 drug, increased this by 50 per cent to a total of $1,500.
2017. November 16. A St George’s woman today denied importing cannabis worth more than $70,000. Natasha York, 41, also pleaded not guilty to possessing 1,430.7 grammes of the drug with intent to supply in St George’s on May 28. Prosecutor Nicole Smith told Magistrates’ Court that the drugs would have had a street value of $71,525. Ms York elected to be tried in Magistrates’ Court and magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo adjourned the matter to November 30. The defendant was released on $25,000 bail on the condition she surrender her travel documents and not leave Bermuda without the court’s permission. She was also ordered to report to Hamilton Police Station every Wednesday.
2017. November 14. A judge has called for improved sentencing guidelines on drugs cases. Puisne judge Carlisle Greaves said in a recent sentencing hearing that a table of guidelines for such cases would make the process simpler and remove uncertainty. Mr Justice Greaves said: “As it presently stands, the darting about mathematically between different quantities measured by grams is too tedious an exercise for a criminal disposition and is likely to bring about some uncertainty to defendants when it comes to the course they may wish to take. “Despite the many helpful Court of Appeal judgments, there appear to be too many cases, some of which have not been appealed, which tend to lead to a little too much confusion in this jurisdiction and tend to raise specters of some inconsistency.” The judge said he did not believe it would be difficult for a committee to conduct the necessary research and come to a consensus on appropriate sentencing guidelines. The comments came during a sentencing hearing last month, in which Mr Justice Greaves sentenced Ryan Willingham-Walker and former customs officer Roberto Marques for drug offences. Marques had admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply, while Willingham-Walker pled guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply. Prosecutors had called for a sentence of no less than 12 years for Marques, while defence lawyer Charles Richardson argued for a sentence below eight years. Both sides referred the court to different cases, which involved a range of sentences and drug quantities. After deliberation, Mr Justice Greaves sentenced Marques to ten years behind bars and Willingham-Walker to 18 months in prison.
2017. November 1. Police hope that the jailing of a former customs officer for ten years for drug offences will send a “strong message” against corruption. Roberto Marques, then still serving in customs, was arrested outside a Pembroke grocery store with 30 bags of cocaine hidden in a sunglasses case. A search of the 41-year-old’s home revealed another 118 grams of the drug, along with drug equipment. Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro said the case showed that the police would act “without fear or favour” in tackling cases. Mr Pedro said: “This was an appropriate sentence, which conveyed the level of severity for the charges he was facing and ultimately convicted of. We hope that it sends a strong message to those who would engage in corrupt practices and illicit activities. The court’s sentence shows that we take these matters very seriously and will deal with them appropriately.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said Marques’s role as a customs officer was a “substantial aggravating factor”. Prosecutors had called for a sentence of no less than 12 years, while defence lawyer Charles Richardson argued that the sentence should not exceed eight years. Meanwhile, a second man, 34-year-old Ryan Willingham-Walker, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possessing cannabis with intent to supply. Both men were arrested at the same time last November. The Supreme Court heard that officers had been watching the parking area at Arnold’s store on St John’s Road when Marques arrived in a car. Willingham-Walker got into the front passenger seat and left the car about five minutes later. Police swooped as Marques tried to pull out of the parking area and arrested both men. Marques admitted he had some “molly”, and during a search officers found cathinone — a drug similar to amphetamines but legal — stored in the centre console. But they also found the sunglasses case with 30 ziplock bags containing cocaine. Willingham-Walker was found to be carrying 6.4 grams of cannabis and a small amount of cathinone. A search of Marques’s home turned up more cocaine — a total of 131 grams of the drug from his house and car worth $31,375. Police also found more cannabis at Willingham-Walker’s home, with the total seized from his clothes and property said to be 144 grammes — worth around $6,750. Both defendants pleaded guilty to possession of drug equipment and money laundering. Marques also pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and Willingham-Walker admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply. Nicole Smith, prosecutor, argued that Marques’s position as a customs officer was a serious aggravating factor. However, Mr Richardson said there was no suggestion Marques had abused his position. In the case of Willingham-Walker, Ms Smith said a sentence of between two and four years would be appropriate given the quantity of cannabis. But Mr Richardson said the only reason Willingham-Walker was before the Supreme Court was that prosecutors had tied his charges to those of Marques. Willingham-Walker said he did not believe he should have been grouped with Marques, and that he had only got into his co-defendant’s car to discuss a football bet.
2017. October 21. Bermuda ranks 13th for cocaine consumption out of 115 countries, according to a survey. The statistics showed that 1.3 per cent of Bermuda residents used the drug — more than anywhere in the Caribbean region except the Dutch territory of Aruba, which was 12th in the table. Truell Landy, director of youth drug prevention charity Pride, said the results underlined the need to prevent people falling victim to gateway drugs as they entered adulthood. She added: “It is just an indicator that we need to be more vigilant with our young people here in Bermuda. Gateway drugs are an opening to the harder drugs — we know that if you have the tendency or predisposition to get involved in drugs or hard drugs, starting with tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, it can open the door and expose our young people.” Albania, where 2.5 per cent of people use cocaine, came top of the list, compiled by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. Scotland came second, on 2.34 per cent, followed by the US, where 2.3 per cent of the population use the drug and England and Wales on 2.25 per cent. The small European duchy of Luxembourg anchored the top 20 with cocaine used by 1.04 per cent of the population. Ms Landy said that cocaine use did not appear to be a major problem among the under-18 age group in Bermuda, with an average of 1.9 per cent using the drug. She added that more could be done to deal with drug abuse on the island. Ms Landy explained: “There are gaps in services among all of the substance abuse agencies whether it be prevention or treatment. We encourage people to get involved in providing effective services in prevention, treatment and even intervention — making sure that we have all of the resources on the island.” The Daily Telegraph survey was based on the most recent statistics from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and national reports. The newspaper report said: “The data corresponds to a variety of reporting years so does not offer a perfect comparison, but gives a good indication of the nations that have the biggest appetite for cocaine.” Ms Landy added that the survey showed the need to nip drug use in the bud. She said: “It is just an indicator that we need to be more vigilant with our young people here in Bermuda. Gateway drugs are an opening to the harder drugs — we know that if you have the tendency or predisposition to get involved in drugs or hard drugs, starting with tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, it can open the door and expose our young people. I would encourage our parents and adults caring for young people to be very vigilant. We are looking at what’s the current use of all substances among our young people now — some, such as alcohol, are really wreaking havoc even though it is a legal drug. There are many of our young people who are engaging with alcohol and marijuana use and it is causing problems. We can see it in the news over the last several years. It is something that we really want to focus on as a concern.” This year’s National Household Survey report on drug use and health in the adult population found that two per cent of respondents admitted to a lifetime prevalence of cocaine use and 0.4 per cent said they were current users. The Daily Telegraph article can be found at telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/cocaine-consumption.
2017 October 7. A woman jailed for importing cannabis has had sentence reduced by eight months — but the court refused a request to increase the sentence of a second woman for drugs offences. Valisa Holder appealed against a 2½-year sentence imposed in Magistrates’ Court, while the Crown asked to have the 2½-year sentence given to Amanda Henry-Huggins increased. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley found that Holder’s sentence was harsh and excessive and reduced it to 22 months in a judgment issued earlier this month. But he quashed the Crown’s appeal against the sentence of Henry-Huggins and said it was in the range proposed by defence counsel and “tacitly conceded” by prosecutors at the time. Henry-Huggins and Holder were arrested in separate incidents at LF Wade International Airport. Holder was found with 1,101g of cannabis in September 2014. Henry-Huggins was caught with 10,896g of the same drug last December. Both pleaded not guilty but were convicted after trials and received the same sentence. During an appearance before the Supreme Court last month, lawyer Auralee Cassidy argued that Holder’s sentence should have been between a year and 18 months. He added that in his notes on sentencing, the magistrate singled out the extended trial as an aggravating factor. Ms Cassidy said: “In this case, there were no aggravating factors. It gives an impression that she was punished for going to trial, but that’s wrong.” She added that the Crown’s comments on sentencing mentioned an “uncertainty” about the value of the seized drugs and argued that the lowest value should be taken into account. But Crown counsel Alan Richards said that the only “uncertainty” he could see in the court records was the usual difference between the estimated street value of the drugs and the wholesale value. Mr Richards accepted that the magistrate would have been wrong if he had used Holder’s trial as an aggravating factor, but he said that the sentence was in the appropriate range. In the case of Henry-Huggins, Mr Richards called for a higher sentence, arguing that the 2½-year sentence imposed was inadequate. Supreme Court heard that during sentencing, defence lawyer Vaughn Caines had called for a sentence of three years, while the prosecution did not suggest a sentence length or oppose the one proposed by Mr Caines. Mr Richards accepted that the submissions by the Crown were “not particularly detailed”, but said that Mr Caines’s suggestion would have been at the lower end of the sentencing scale. Mr Caines said that the legal system in Bermuda was adversarial and questioned if it was right for the Crown to complain about a sentence after it failed to make a submission on the subject at the sentence stage. Mr Justice Kawaley wrote in his rulings that the sentence of Holder was excessive when compared to that of Huggins and that the magistrate had failed to provide sufficient reasons to give her a sentence at the higher end of the proposed sentencing range. He allowed the appeal and reduced her sentence by eight months. However, the judge dismissed the Crown appeal in the case of Henry-Huggins. He said: “The Crown has demonstrated that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate in the sense that it was both unduly lenient and wrong in principle. However, because the sentence imposed was within a range which was proposed by defence counsel and tacitly conceded as appropriate by prosecution counsel at the sentencing hearing, a case for allowing the appeal and quashing the sentence imposed has not been made out.”
2017. September 27. A man accused of smuggling $8.5 million of heroin into the island was remanded in custody yesterday to face trial in the Supreme Court. It is alleged Josef Vlcek, 47, from Czechia, also known as the Czech Republic, brought nearly three kilograms of the drug into Bermuda on Saturday. He was also charged with possessing heroin with intent to supply. Mr Vlcek, who appeared in Magistrates’ Court, did not have to enter a plea as the case must be heard in the Supreme Court. The court was told that the drugs imported have an estimated street value of up to $8.5 million. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered Mr Vlcek to appear at the November arraignments session.
2017. September 15. A 25-year-old cruise ship passenger was today handed a suspended prison sentence for possessing 3.73 grams of cannabis. Ioas Durham, from Boston, was sentenced to one month in prison, suspended for six months, for the offence that happened in Sandys on Tuesday. Magistrates’ Court heard that Durham was searched by customs officers when he left the Anthem of the Seas around noon and plant material was found in his backpack. Durham also dropped an item down the back of his shorts. It fell on the ground and he stepped on it. His cabin was also searched and more plant material was seized. Plant material was later recovered from the search area and Durham told police officers that it was probably his. In court today, Durham explained that he has a Massachusetts medical marijuana card for a variety of health problems. He added that he was not aware that cannabis was illegal in Bermuda and that he was “extremely embarrassed and apologetic”. Durham also told the court that he spent the night in the emergency shelter at the Salvation Army and a Go Fund Me account was set up for him so he could afford a ticket home. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe handed him the suspended sentence and warned him not to commit any further offences in Bermuda in the next six months.
2017. September 6. An American visitor who “accidentally” travelled to Bermuda with 38 rounds of ammunition in his luggage has been fined $300. Johnny Jefferson flew to Bermuda last month from Houston to escape Hurricane Harvey, Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday. Jefferson was leaving the island on September 1 when airport security detected the bullets in his bag. The 55-year-old was arrested and told officers that he thought he had left the ammunition in a different bag with his gun in Memphis. He admitted possessing ammunition and told the court: “This was an innocent mistake. I had no idea the ammunition was in my bag when I came to Bermuda. Since this is my first offence, I ask you to have mercy on me.” Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo told Jefferson that he accepted his explanation. He added: “I am glad that Bermuda was able to give you some safety from Hurricane Harvey. But unfortunately we don’t want ammunition coming into this country. We take it very seriously.”
2017. September 5. A 47-year-old man has denied being part of a plot to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda. Rudolph Travers Clarke pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled drug into Bermuda in January at Supreme Court arraignments. Mr Clarke also denied a further charge of possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply. He was remanded in custody
2017. August 18. A 33-year-old St George’s man accused of possessing a firearm and ammunition was this morning remanded in custody. Dion Cholmondeley was charged in Magistrates’ Court with possession of a Glock 9mm handgun and four rounds of 9mm calibre ammunition without a licence in Warwick on August 15. He was not required to enter pleas because the charges are indictable and must be heard in Supreme Court. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo remanded Mr Cholmondeley, represented by lawyer Charles Richardson, in custody until the October 2 arraignment session.
2017. August 12. The Customs Department has not changed its policy on importing cannabis-related items, shop owners have been advised. It follows confusion on social media after Customs sent businesses a letter warning them food, drink and beauty products containing hemp are being sold in local shops. That letter reminded traders that the importation of goods containing cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids is punishable by imprisonment or fines, and that any goods found containing them, including hemp, would be sent to police for investigation. In a statement to clarify the matter, shared with The Royal Gazette today, the Customs Department said: “The Collector of Customs has taken note of certain concerns expressed on social media regarding a letter to all customs traders concerning the importation of goods containing cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids. The Collector wishes to dispel any possible misunderstanding concerning the content of that letter. The Collector confirms that there has been no change in Customs policy regarding the import prohibition on cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids. The letter simply restates the effect of the relevant legal provisions, and sets out what importers of products containing these substances might expect for any breach of the law. For the avoidance of doubt, no advice has been issued to importers by the Customs Department regarding any such products already on the shelves of local shops.” The Customs letter dated August 2, stated: “It has come to the attention of the Collector of Customs that a variety of food and beverage preparations and beauty and skin care products purporting to contain hemp protein, hemp seed or hemp oil are on offer for sale in certain local retail shops. The presence of these products on shop shelves notwithstanding, we would remind all customs traders that the importation of any part of the cannabis plant (except fibre produced from the stalk of the plant); cannabis resin; or natural or synthetic cannabinoids is prohibited by law. Importations of goods or products containing these substances are subject to forfeiture and those responsible for the importation may be liable to penalties or imprisonment. For the avoidance of doubt, ‘cannabis plant’ includes the hemp plant or industrial hemp plant. Should any customs officer have reasonable grounds to suspect that any imported goods contain any of the substances listed above, those goods will be detained and forwarded to the Bermuda Police Service for investigation.” Any questions concerning the importation or exportation prohibited or restricted goods should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on import and export prohibitions and restrictions has been published on the Bermuda Government website at www.gov.bm.
2017. August 2. A 47-year-old Southampton man is to face trial on charges of possession of cocaine with an estimated street value of $117,000 and intent to supply. Rudolph Travers pleaded not guilty to two counts — possession and intent to sell cocaine on both January 8 and January 14 of this year — in Magistrates’ Court yesterday. Travers was remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in court again on Friday, September 1. Meanwhile, Shaki Easton, 34, of Warwick, was banned from the road for 18 months and fined $1,200 after he admitted driving while impaired. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo heard how Easton was involved in a single-vehicle collision in his van at about 4am on July 20 in Smith’s Parish. Police found the damaged vehicle against a wall and utility pole.
2017. August 1. Two cases of drug possession were adjourned during the arraignment session at Supreme Court this morning. Chamari Burns, 25, is accused of importing the controlled drug cocaine and being in possession of cocaine with intent to supply on October 22 of last year. The case was adjourned so he made no plea and is due to return to the court for the next arraignment session on September 1. Mr Burns was remanded in custody. Raza Mirza, 23, of Ontario, Canada, appeared to face charges of the importation of cocaine and possession with intent to supply on June 9 of this year. The setting of his trial date was also adjourned. He will return to court for arraignment on September 1.
2017. July 27. More than 130,000 fatal doses of fentanyl could be on the streets of Bermuda, with Chief Medical Officer Cheryl Peek-Ball describing the amount of missing drugs as “exceptionally large and dangerous”. Canadian Jacqueline Robinson was jailed for seven years last Friday for smuggling 45 pellets of the drug into Bermuda — and the Supreme Court heard how all but one of them were never recovered. At Robinson’s hearing, prosecutor Cindy Clarke told the court that the total weight of 45 pills would be approximately 262 grams. The court heard how Robinson, 25, collapsed in a room at the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club five days after arriving from Toronto on December 15 last year. While being medically assessed, she vomited a pellet, which was later found to be 5.83 grams of fentanyl. The drug — a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more powerful than morphine — is often used to cut heroin and can be fatal even in very small doses. According to Dr Peek-Ball, it also poses a serious risk to both the public and first responders, as well as those who work in labs and various healthcare capacities who may have professional exposure. She said: “Given that two milligrams of fentanyl is known to be lethal, the unaccounted for quantity equates to 131,000 lethal doses. Contact with fentanyl through inhalation or skin must be avoided at all cost. Even minuscule quantities — as small as a grain of salt — can cause immediate harmful health effects, including respiratory depression, unconsciousness and death.” Last month, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb, Commissioner of Corrections, confirmed that an internal investigation was continuing after suspected fentanyl-related overdoses at Westgate Correctional Facility. That followed a media report in April that multiple inmates at the prison had suffered overdoses thought to be connected with the drug. Also last month, a Ministry of Health and Seniors spokeswoman said that four samples had tested positive for the drug. The samples were collected between December 2016 and May 2017. No further information was provided. Police said their investigation into the unrecovered fentanyl remained active. “There is no connection with any other suspected fentanyl overdoses,” a Bermuda Police Service spokesman said. The agency reminded the public of the dangers of the drug. “Those that may come into contact with this illegal substance should exercise extreme caution, be aware of any signs of exposure, seek immediate medical attention if exposed to any amount, and provide as much detail as possible to medical personnel so appropriate treatment can be considered,” the spokesman said. There have been no deaths connected with the drug in Bermuda.
2017. July 25. A Southampton man accused of smuggling drugs into the country has been found not guilty by a unanimous verdict. Harry Lightbourne, 56, was formally acquitted yesterday afternoon after a weeklong trial in the Supreme Court. Prosecutors had alleged that Mr Lightbourne had brought in more than $320,000 worth of cannabis and cannabis resin in an incident last year — an offence which he steadfastly denied. However after a few hours of deliberation yesterday, the jury delivered a unanimous verdict in his favour on all four charges. Acting Puisne Judge Shade Subair-Williams subsequently told Mr Lightbourne that he was free to go. While he remained silent upon the reading of the verdict, sounds of celebration could be heard shortly after he stepped outside of the building.
2017. July 22. A drugs mule who was caught after smuggling a stash of fentanyl into Bermuda believed to be worth nearly $800,000 has been jailed for seven years. Jacqueline Robinson swallowed 45 pellets of the lethal drug before travelling from Toronto to Bermuda on December 15 last year. The 25-year-old Canadian national made it through LF Wade International Airport, but collapsed five days later in a hotel room having excreted all bar one of the pellets. She admitted her involvement in the smuggling operation and was given a discounted sentence at Supreme Court this week for co-operating fully with the police. But in the first case of its kind involving fentanyl in Bermuda, Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe warned that those who tried to smuggle fentanyl on to the island could expect a prison sentence of between 18 and 21 years after trial. Mr Justice Wolffe noted the devastating effects of fentanyl and stated that the 18 to 21-year starting point was before any mitigating factors were taken into consideration. Prosecutor Cindy Clarke told the Supreme Court that it was likely that fentanyl was already prevalent on the streets of Bermuda, and that there had been reported overdoses at Westgate Correctional Facility. She said: “To a drug trafficker, fentanyl provides a greater profit margin. It is cheaper than heroin.” Ms Clarke added: “Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate painkiller. It can be mixed with heroin to increase its potency, but dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingesting. Fentanyl can be lethal and is deadly at very low doses. Fentanyl, carfentanyl and other fentanyl-related compounds have recently gained unprecedented notoriety in North America. In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has declared a state of emergency for the province of British Columbia due to over 600 deaths in British Columbia alone in 2016. Fentanyl and carfentanyl are killing thousands across Canada and USA every year. Fentanyl is often pedaled as heroin. It can be lethal at the 2mg dosage range, depending on route of administration and other factors.” On December 20 last year, Robinson was rushed to hospital after being found unconscious on the balcony of her room at the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club. While she was being medically assessed she vomited a pellet, which was later tested and found to be 5.83 grams of fentanyl. Ms Clarke told the court: “If the defendant did in fact swallow 45 pills the total weight would be approximately 262 grams; which would have had a street value in Bermuda of $768,520 if it was sold as heroin.” The 44 other pellets, which Robinson told officers she had already excreted, were never recovered by police. Robinson, who has no previous convictions, remained in hospital for nine days and was treated for severe kidney failure. She was rearrested for conspiracy to import a controlled drug and later told detectives she had been recruited in Canada to travel to Bermuda to take out $10,000. She said that on the night prior to her travel she was collected and told to swallow the drug pellets, which she did, before getting on board the Bermuda-bound flight.
2017. July 18. A visiting husband and wife have been fined $1,400 for bringing cocaine and cannabis into Bermuda. Appearing in Magistrates’ Court this morning, Kelly Ann Geyer and Joseph Geyer, both 56 and from Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to importing the drugs on July 11. Prosecutor Alan Richards told the court that customs officers did a “rummage search” on board the Grandeur of the Seas on July 11 and noticed that one of the defendants smelled of cannabis. They searched the couple’s cabin and found plastic bags containing plant material, white powder and pills. The plant material was found to be 7.49g of cannabis, while the white power was determined to be 0.48g of cocaine. Mr Richards added that the pills, which Kelly Ann Geyer claimed were vitamin B, could not be analyzed. In court today, both defendants apologized repeatedly. “I was on vacation — it was for personal use,” Kelly Ann Geyer said. “I am just extremely sorry that we disobeyed your laws.” Joseph Geyer added that they had left the drugs on the ship and did not know they were doing anything wrong. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo took into account their guilty plea, the amount and that the drugs were found in their cabin. He handed each defendant a $500 fine for importing the cannabis and $200 for importing the cocaine, with the fines to be paid forthwith.
2017. July 6. A Southampton woman has appeared in Magistrates’ Court, charged with possessing more than $42,000 worth of cannabis with intent to supply. Rebecca Wallington, 41, of Welcome Place, entered a plea of not guilty to having 857.3g of the drug in Southampton on January 23. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo granted Ms Wallington bail to the amount of $30,000, with a like surety, setting a mention date of July 26.
2017. June 22. Court reports were ordered on a St George’s man after he was caught with around a gram of cocaine. Levar Hollis, 38, was reportedly stopped by police on November 4 last year for a traffic offence on Kindley Field Road. Officers noticed that Hollis seemed nervous and asked him if he had anything illegal on his person. He then indicated towards his pockets, where officers found two small plastic bags. One bag was found to contain 0.85 grams of cocaine, while the second held 0.16 grams of cocaine freebase. Appearing in Magistrates’ Court this morning, Hollis pleaded guilty to possessing the controlled drug, saying that at the time of the traffic stop he was at a low point in his life. “This arrest was like a wake-up call,” he said. “It wasn’t just about me, it was about those around me.” Noting a lack of previous drug convictions, magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered a Social Inquiry Report and a drug assessment for Hollis to determine if a conditional discharge would be suitable. Hollis was released on $1,500 bail and is set to return to the court in August for sentencing.
2017. June 15. A conspirator in an international operation to smuggle nearly $1 million worth of cocaine soaked in shredded paper packaging into Bermuda has been jailed for 21 years. Curtis Swan had also been convicted of possessing more than $130,000 in ill-gotten gains and removing $90,000 from the island that police believe was earned from the illegal trade of narcotics on the island. Yesterday the 54-year-old was sentenced to 21 years for conspiracy to import the drugs and three years each for two counts of money-laundering. Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe ordered that all the sentences should run concurrently. Mr Justice Wolffe described the drug smuggling operation as “sophisticated” and said Swan’s role was on the “middle rung of the ladder”. “There is not much in the way of mitigation in this case,” he added. “Without conspirators and the brains behind the operation the drugs would not reach our streets. It must have been clear to the jury that you were not just a simple mule duped into picking up the box of vases. Money obtained from drugs transactions is the ultimate motivator for the importation of drugs and the money launderer is the most critical person in the entire industry.” Earlier in yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Swan had again professed his innocence of any involvement in the drug operation. During the course of a five-week trial at Supreme Court, jurors heard that Swan, who previously worked at The Royal Gazette, was caught red-handed in May 2015 after he picked up a package containing shredded paper and glass vases from FedEx in Hamilton. Authorities in the United States had already intercepted the package, which originated in Panama, and removed the packaging that was found to have been soaked in cocaine hydrochloride. After Swan picked up the package he was kept under supervision as he stopped at Bermuda Paint and bought liquid ammonia on behalf of The Royal Gazette — which he was not authorised to do. Prosecutors told the court that the chemical would have been used to remove the cocaine from the shredded paper and would have produced a large quantity of crack cocaine with a street value of over $811,000. When police descended on Swan’s Warwick home, they discovered vases and other packaging, which contained traces of cocaine. They believed it showed this was not the first attempt to smuggle in the cocaine from Panama. Further inquiries by financial crime officers revealed huge quantities of cash had been deposited in Swan’s three Bermuda bank accounts between January 2013 and 2015 and withdrawn soon after the money was transferred. Examination of his bank account records showed Swan had removed just over $92,000 from Bermuda through his various accounts that had then been withdrawn from cash points in Trinidad and Panama. He had also personally tried to launder a further $39,000 in ill-gotten gains by exchanging Bermuda dollars for US currency at various financial establishments in Bermuda. Swan was arrested and questioned by police on May 28, 2015. He admitted picking up the package from FedEx but claimed he had no idea it had contained drugs. During his trial Swan took the stand and again insisted that he had done nothing wrong and had no idea that he had been involved in a drug importation conspiracy. However, the jury rejected his version of events and found him guilty of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda and money-laundering by a majority decision last month.
2017. June 13. A 32-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis following a search warrant early this year. Police attended a residence on Fentons Drive, Pembroke, with a canine unit shortly before 5.30pm on January 7. Magistrates’ Court heard that officers asked Okeisha Clarke if she was in possession of any illegal drugs. “Yes, in my back pocket,” she replied. The marijuana, totaling 3.39 grams, and a partially-burnt marijuana cigarette were seized by police. Asked by Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo if she had anything to say in court, Clarke responded: “They didn’t have to look for it. I gave it up. I was co-operative.” He adjourned sentencing until Tuesday, June 27, pending reports. Clarke was granted $1,000 bail
2017. June 7. A 26-year-old convicted of conspiring to import heroin was jailed for 12 years yesterday, while his mother received a suspended sentence for a money-laundering charge. Damon Morris, of Paget, was convicted by a jury of conspiring to import heroin and possessing cocaine among other charges, and his mother, Denise Morris, also of Paget, 55, was found guilty of money laundering. During their trial, a jury heard that, in December 2015, a passenger arrived in Bermuda on a commercial flight when an X-ray confirmed the items were inside his body. He subsequently excreted the items, which were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of $253,380. Following an investigation, police arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs. During the arrest, officers also found 49.97 grams of cocaine and 10.14 grams of cocaine, with a combined value of $18,800. In addition, they seized $15,210 which was in Denise Morris’s possession. After a 7½-week trial, a Supreme Court jury found Damon Morris guilty of conspiracy to import heroin, possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of drug equipment. Denise Morris was acquitted of the drugs offences, but was found guilty of possessing criminal proceeds in cash that were connected to the case. Addressing the court on Friday, prosecutor Larissa Burgess said that Damon Morris had previous convictions and has shown no remorse, noting that he still maintains his innocence despite what she described as “overwhelming evidence”. She recommended a total sentence of 33 years behind bars for Damon Morris, including 18 years for the conspiracy to import heroin and 15 years for the cocaine charges with the charges running consecutively. However, defence lawyer Marc Daniels said such a sentence would be “manifestly harsh and excessive” as it would be significantly greater than sentences imposed for the importation of much greater quantities of drugs. Given all the circumstances, he said a sentence of between eight and ten years in prison would be appropriate, arguing that any more than 12 years in totality would be the upper limit the court should consider. And while Ms Burgess called for a sentence of 12 months in prison for Denise Morris, defence lawyer Susan Mulligan argued that a conditional discharge would be appropriate given the impact the charges have already had on her. Ms Mulligan told the court that her client was embarrassed and humiliated by the charges, had lost her relationship with her son and was at risk of losing the job she has held for 30 years. Delivering her sentence, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons noted that Denise Morris had no previous convictions and had done much service to the community. “To any bystander, they may feel she has been punished enough,” she said. “Circumstances call for more than a conditional discharge, but present circumstances merit a suspended sentence.” She subsequently imposed a 12-month sentence, suspended, adding that there was no need for further supervision. However, in the case of Damon Morris, Mrs Justice Simmons said a message must be sent by the courts, noting the damage that drugs do to the community. She said that there were no mitigating factors in his case, saying that he has shown no remorse for his actions, only to the damage they have done to his family. Mrs Justice Simmons sentenced Damon Morris to 12 years behind bars for the conspiracy to import heroin, 10½ years for the cocaine charges and one year for the possession of a scale, but ordered those sentences to run concurrently.
2017. June 6. A 29-year-old American visitor caught with cocaine and methamphetamine on board the Anthem of the Seas has been fined $600. Appearing in Magistrates’ Court this morning, Akeem Thompson, from Brooklyn, admitted possessing 0.04 grams of cocaine and 0.51g of methamphetamine on June 3. The court head that the drugs were discovered after the head pool attendant found an iPhone on deck 14. When he pulled off the case to check for the model number, he found a small plastic bag containing a white powder and another bag containing a grey powder. He alerted security and a review of the CCTV footage showed the defendant with the phone minutes before it was found by the pool attendant. Thompson was questioned by security and told them that while he had lost his phone, the one they had in their possession was not his. Police officers attended the ship yesterday and Thompson again told them that the phone did not belong to him. He was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station. In court today, defence lawyer Susan Mulligan said her client was an “occasional user” of the drugs but had forgotten that they were stashed behind the phone case. She said this was evident in that he had reported the phone as lost and that the “penny dropped” when the police confronted him about the drugs. Ms Mulligan also said that Thompson, who was on the cruise with his parents, “meant no disrespect and did not mean to violate any laws”. Thompson also apologized, attributing the offences to negligence on his part. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo handed him two $200 fines, which were both increased to $300 because the drugs fall under Schedule 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act and are subject to an increased penalty.
2017. June 1. An American visitor has been fined $300 for bringing more than 30 grams of cannabis on a cruise ship. Appearing in Magistrates’ Court this morning, 67-year-old Roberta McQueen pleaded guilty to having 33.12g of the drug in Sandys on May 27. The court heard that police were called to search her cabin on board the Anthem of the Seas after cleaners noticed a strong smell of cannabis. A ziplock bag containing 18 “homemade cigars” was found in the cabin safe and another bag containing eight one-inch pieces of plant material were also recovered. McQueen told officers that she uses the drug for her arthritis, adding: “It was a nine-day cruise and I use it for the pain.” In court today, McQueen said she did not have a medical prescription although she had told her doctor of her use. She said she comes from Delaware, where the possession of the drug has been decriminalized up to an ounce. Marc Daniels, who was acting as duty counsel, added that McQueen was on a family cruise and that she was only supposed to be in Bermuda for one day. He noted that McQueen uses the drug to cope with a series of medical conditions. Mr Daniels also pointed out that she had never been in trouble before, let alone arrested, and asked for “as much leniency as possible”. But Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said McQueen entered a contract with the cruise ship company and should have known that Bermuda is a jurisdiction that does not tolerate the possession of cannabis. However, taking her guilty plea and upfront admission into account, as well as her use of the drug for medical reasons and that she comes from an area where it is decriminalized, he handed her a fine of $300.
2017. May 26. A St David’s man has been hit with a $1,000 fine after being caught with 15.5 grams of cannabis by police executing a search warrant. Magistrates’ Court heard that Deon Pitcher, 32, of Chapel of Ease Road, was arrested at a Pembroke residence after officers seeking another individual found him with a bag of plantlike material on December 9. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered Pitcher to pay the fine by June 30.
2017. May 22. The approval of amendments aimed at decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis was applauded yesterday by anti-racism charity Curb. Lynn Winfield, the charity’s president, called the amendments a step in the right direction to address the criminalisation of young black men. She called on the opposition and the government to further consider the charity’s recommendations and “begin the process of moving towards legalization of cannabis once the appropriate studies have been carried out on how best to regulate. Curb is an advocate for the use of restorative justice in Bermuda’s criminal justice system, and this legislation takes a step in the right direction and will hopefully prevent the further criminalisation of our young black males,” she said. “As part of that restorative justice process, there is a need to ensure the conviction of any individual for this amount of cannabis be overturned, so that their record can be wiped clean.” The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act 2017 must first pass through the Senate and be approved by the Governor before becoming enshrined in law. However should it pass those barriers, the possession of up to 7 grams of cannabis would be decriminalized on June 30. According to the law, drugs would still be seized and minors caught with any amount of cannabis could be required to go through drug education or treatment. And the Department of Public Prosecutions could still seek charges for intent to supply, if there was sufficient evidence, even if the drugs amounted to less than 7 grams. Michael Scott, the shadow attorney-general, said the amendments were intended to help prevent Bermudians, particularly young black males, from suffering the long-term consequences of a drugs conviction, including placement on the US “stop list. Our history in the even dispensation of justice has been dire, as reflected in the observations of independent investigations of the drug issue,” Mr Scott said. “Certainly this Decriminalization Bill is exclusively about addressing historic uneven arrest and prosecution policies that target one section of our society over another.” Mr Scott also emphasized that 7 grams is a “most conservative amount, given the fact that 28 grams is generally seen as the amount […] that the law in other countries deems as simple possession”. The One Bermuda Alliance had tabled its own decriminalization legislation with a limit of 3 grams, but the legislation was approved without objection after receiving a handful of amendments on the floor. Michael Dunkley also noted that there had been concerns that 7 grams was “pushing that envelope too far”. But he added that the primary aim was to deal with the stop list, which has been “the bane of probably thousands of people just in my lifetime alone”. The Premier said it was also necessary to focus attention on “being able to look at expunging people’s record in this regard and also remove people from the stop list”. Kim Wilson, meanwhile, stressed the negative impact that cannabis can have on adolescents, leading to higher risks of mental illness. Noting amendments brought forward on the floor to require young people caught with cannabis to undergo drug education, she said: “We have two competing interests that need to be addressed and this Bill addresses both of those issues.” Her concerns were echoed by OBA MP Susan Jackson, who called for some sort of support system for parents and victims of schizophrenia and “other disorders that are directly attributed to the misuse or use of cannabis”. While Ms Jackson said the legislation was a long time coming, she said it also comes with a “level of responsibility for all of those that may want to take advantage of the consumption and use of cannabis in this community”. Environment minister Sylvan Richards recounted how he was stopped and searched one night in his youth by police — the officer did not find the joint he had in his pouch, he said. “My life would’ve changed completely. If I would have got busted that day, I probably would not have got to go to university and the whole trajectory of my life would have gone someplace else.” He said he had long hoped to do something to help those who had been less fortunate. But he also said that professions such as the fire service or construction were already struggling to hire Bermudians because many could not pass a drugs test, which could potentially become even more difficult. PLP MP Jamahl Simmons said that while he supported the bill, “each of us in our community who do engage in marijuana need to ask yourself a question — if you need it to get your confidence up to go pull some leg, you need to examine your use. If you need it to deal with the stress of your job and you can’t face the day without it, you need to examine your use. If you are avoiding working in certain places because they drug test, you need to examine your use.” Education minister Cole Simons, however, said that as education minister, said he could not support the Bill. “We have encouraged our students to live our drug free life,” he said. “We have encouraged our students to make wise choices, so in my mind it would be duplicitous of me to support this legislation because it will basically allow the usage of marijuana to increase in this country”. Leah Scott also said the legislation was a challenge for her, saying that while it was important to create a level playing field for young black males, she knew through her son the potential risks. Independent MP Mark Pettingill, who tabled several amendments to the Bill, said money needs to be placed into education and treatment rather than the war on drugs, which he said has already been lost. While he said there might be some debate in the details, for the most part they were all singing from the same pew. He said believes there should be a move towards licencing for cultivation, but the decriminalization was a first step. “I believe we have to move it forward,” he said “Lets move it forward not back.” Michael Weeks, meanwhile, called on increased early education on drug issues, saying: “A lot of times we talk about education only after the horse has left the stable.” And he said that the island needs to have a conversation about cannabis cultivation and where the legal lines should be drawn.
2017. May 19. Legislation decriminalizing up to 7 grams of cannabis was passed unanimously in the House of Assembly tonight. If approved by the Senate and the Governor, the legislation will come into effect on June 30. The Opposition bill, tabled by shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott, received support from both sides of the House, although some expressed concern over possible “unintended consequences”. Delivering his brief, Mr Scott said the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act 2017 aimed to help prevent Bermudians, particularly young black males, from suffering the long-term consequences of a drugs conviction, including placement on the US “stop list”. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions could still charge those caught with less than 7 grams of cannabis if there is evidence of intent to supply.
2017. May 13. A Bill to decriminalize cannabis in amount of 3g or less has been brought before MPs by the Government. But amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act, presented in Parliament by Attorney-General Trevor Moniz, appeared to take both the Opposition and Speaker of the House Randy Horton by surprise. Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott protested that the Bill clashed with the Progressive Labour Party’s own decriminalization Bill, brought to the House in February. Having not had the chance to “peruse” the Bill, Mr Horton told MPs he would have to read it first and reflect. Mr Moniz apologized to the shadow minister, saying he had been unable to discuss it with Mr Scott before Parliament — with Mr Horton responding: “That’s what we must do.”
2017. March 10. Functioning addicts, many with careers and children, make up a large portion of the island’s heroin-using population, according to health experts and police. “It’s not the guy shooting up in the alley that you saw 20 or 30 years ago,” Edward Schultz, director of Emergency Services for Bermuda Hospitals Board, said of the island’s modern-day heroin user. “It’s not the kids. It’s the 30 to 50 age group. They’re working — they’re not skid-row types.” Detective Superintendent Sean Field-Lament of the Bermuda Police Service added that the island had a “very high amount” of functioning addicts, many of whom have affluent backgrounds and large sums of disposable cash. The arrival in Bermuda of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine — has prompted warnings from health, law enforcement and government representatives over its possible impact. The drug, which can be fatal even in very small doses, is often used to cut heroin, increasing users’ risk for overdose and death. Dr Schultz, psychiatrist Grant Farquhar and Mr Field-Lament spoke to The Royal Gazette about Bermuda’s heroin problems, with Dr Farquhar saying that dozens of addicts are currently undergoing treatment, many after using up to $200 a day of the drug. By all indications, according to Dr Schultz, fentanyl has yet to find its way into the country’s heroin supply. “If there was that much on the street, we would be seeing more serious overdose and deaths. Relative to the number of users on the island, there are few heroin overdoses that end up in the emergency room. What that says to me, is that the consistency of what’s coming in is very stable,” Dr Schultz said. “We’ve never had episodes where all of a sudden we get flooded in the ER with five or six people who suddenly got a really strong batch of heroin.” Unlike other locations, such as Vancouver, where deaths associated with fentanyl have largely been associated with intravenous injection, the majority of Bermuda users today ingest the drug through the nasal cavity, Dr Schultz said. “They don’t get endocarditis, they don’t get hepatitis, they don’t get abscesses,” he said. “They work. They’re the thin guy you see at work, who’s pretty fit — he uses heroin.” Similarly, while the recent popularity of heroin in the United States can be linked with the prescription of powerful opioids for pain — such as OxyContin and Oxycodone, there seems to be little correlation here. “It’s pretty well controlled here,” Dr Schultz said of prescription opioid sales. Mr Field-Lament said: “We don’t have what I would say is an over-prescription problem.” He said the resurgence of heroin on island instead came out of “a really bad spate” of crack cocaine use. Back in the 1980s, Mr Field-Lament said he was put on a task force to deal with the emerging threat of HIV/Aids. “In Bermuda, it was literally isolated to intravenous drug use,” he said. Following the death of many heroin users, crack cocaine began to gain popularity, with heroin mixed in to take the “roller-coaster edge” off the high, the Detective Superintendent said. Astute dealers realized that heroin was the smart drug to supply. “Your clientele, you can set a clock to them,” Mr Field-Lament said. “Bermuda, I would say, has a very high amount of, I call them, functioning addicts. We’re an affluent society with quite a lot of disposable income.” Dr Farquhar, one of two psychiatrists with the Turning Point Substance Abuse Programme, said addicts could often operate for decades before “hitting bottom. The functioning addicts don’t tend to seek treatment until there’s a problem. And that problem might be they’ve been fired from their job, or divorced by their wife, or have lost their house.” Dr Farquhar said that the majority of 100 people currently in the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programme are men between the ages of 30 and 50, who have been using heroin for up to 20 years. Many, he said, report using between $100 and $200 a day worth of the drug. “You can only, usually, keep that lifestyle up for so long before your body cannot physically handle it any more, or something else happens,” the doctor said. Those seeking treatment to kick the habit often come with a serious misconception. “There’s a perception that once you come into detox and you get clean, that’s it, you’re cured,” Dr Farquhar said. “But you’re not. That’s just the beginning of the battle, really. Bermuda is very small. It’s hard to avoid people. It’s not like you can move to the next city where you don’t have a network of drug dealers and associates.” And while detox helps rid the user of the physical drive to find their next fix, the impact of — in some cases — decades of drug use has dramatically altered the mind of the addict. “Over a period of time, over ten or 20 years of heroin use, your brain has changed,” Dr Farquhar said. “So your brain is going to be telling you that you need to have opiates. Those ready to clean up should not fear the impact. Withdrawing from heroin is not a serious problem. Opioids kill you in overdosing — that’s the big danger.” There is also no waiting list for admission into the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programme, he said. “Treatment’s available, and it’s free. Residential rehab is available and it’s free, detox is available and it’s free.” While popularity may be highest among the 30 to 50-year-old men, use of the drug would seem not to be confined to lower-income earners. Mr Field-Lament said of those who have fatally overdosed on the drug: “Some have been retired construction workers; we have sons of really affluent rich white people. I can remember overdose deaths in the bathroom at very rich white people’s Christmas parties,” Dr Schultz echoed. “It’s across the board.” “Construction, office jobs — could be a doctor,” Dr Farquhar said of the careers of those who have sought treatment. “It basically goes across all social strata.”
2017. February 24. Many are sceptical that a new cannabis caution policy will avert convictions, under the belief that police have long held the power of discretion for minor drug offences. Others at last night’s meeting on the decriminalization of marijuana, hosted at Warwick Workmen’s Club, supported full legalization of the drug via the first step of bringing in medical cannabis. Roughly half of attendees supported decriminalization, with one man telling the gathering: “Everybody smokes it. You’re not going to stop it.” Meanwhile, a drug prevention officer from the Department of National Drug Control said her office was focusing on school-age children and “stopping drug use before it starts”. “Marijuana is coming into our schools in the form of cookies and brownies and we’re very concerned about it,” she told The Royal Gazette. “It’s very hard to regulate potency and young people don’t know about it. All they know is they would like to be high.” Several at the meeting, led by Warwick South East MP Lawrence Scott of the Progressive Labour Party, called for the drug to be legalized as a form of regulating it, with one woman telling the gathering of about 20 people: “Even if we decriminalize, there’s still a criminal element that’s going to give you a tainted product.” One man voiced frustration at the debate over how Bermuda should proceed, saying the argument amounts to “reinventing the wheel. Just look at all the states in North America that have done it,” he said. "All the concerns have already been addressed.” The majority seemed to view legalization as an inevitability, with another man declaring: “We need to become independent thinkers in an industry that’s leaving us behind.” He said he worked with tourists and was regularly approached by visitors curious about buying cannabis. “We’re competing with other places with pink sands and beautiful waters that allow tourists to be free. In Jamaica it’s not legal, but they leave the tourists alone.” Mr Scott characterized the meeting as a fact-finding endeavour, saying many of his constituents had spoken to him regarding the issue. Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, initiated a survey of opinions in May 2016 for a caution policy on simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, while the Opposition has prepared its own Bill for decriminalization. Mr Mussenden announced yesterday that he had issued the guidance for formal cautions on simple possession of cannabis to the Commissioner of Police, detailing a “three strikes” policy in cases where a person is found with less than 3g of the drug.
2017. February 20. Legislation paving the way for people to be cautioned for possession of a small cannabis is set to come into force, Attorney-General Trevor Moniz has confirmed. Mr Moniz released a statement after Director of Public Prosecutions Larry Mussenden unveiled a new “three strikes” draft policy meaning people caught with less than three grams will receive formal cautions. He recalled the Police and Criminal Evidence Amendment Act, passed last March, allowed for the Bermuda Police Service to issue formal police cautions to persons suspected of committing offences and who admit culpability. “Formal cautions serve as an alternative to traditional prosecutions before the courts,” Mr Moniz stated. “They give law enforcement another tool in helping to prevent unnecessary criminalisation in the first instance and to further deter persons from future actions that may lead to criminalisation. Cautions permit the police and prosecutors to consider a response which is proportionate to the level of criminality involved. Following passage of the legislation, the DPP commenced a consultative exercise with stakeholders across Government and the community. The result of that exercise was the announcement of Draft Formal Police Caution guidance for Simple Possession of Cannabis weighing three grams or less. To that end, I am now bringing the legislation into force, and a notice to that effect will be published in the Gazette shortly. The DPP will then be in a position to formally bring the guidance into effect. I wish to thank the DPP and his team for all of their hard work in effecting this guidance, and to all stakeholders who took the time to respond to his request for comment.”
2017. February 20. The arrival of fentanyl in Bermuda is prompting warnings over the drug’s potential impact to public health and safety from representatives of the health, policing and government communities. The message follows the arrest of two Canadians in December after allegedly smuggling the drug into the country. A third suspect — a Jamaican national — was subsequently charged. The matter remains before the courts. “This is an incredibly dangerous drug, and people can die very quickly from it,” Edward Schultz, director of Emergency Services for the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said of the synthetic opioid. With a potency roughly 50 to 100 times that of morphine, the drug has been heavily linked to what Health Canada in November described as a “crisis of opioid-related overdoses and death across the country,” and which prompted a nationwide alert from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration nearly two years ago. Widely used by physicians as a pain reliever, forms of fentanyl began to be sold for illicit purposes, most commonly as a cutting agent in other narcotics — primarily heroin — creating greater risks for those using the drug. “I think there’s a huge issue with heroin use in Bermuda,” Dr Schultz said. “We’ve had a large number of people using heroin for the last 20 years. There’s always been a very large heroin-using population,” Bermuda Police Services Detective Superintendent Sean Field-Lament said. According to Mr Field-Lament, the country’s heroin supply — traditionally sourced from either Mexico, via the eastern United States, or more recently The Netherlands, via London — has rarely been stepped on. We tend to get quite high purity,” he said. The arrival of fentanyl, he said, would allow heroin to be cut down by importers and dealers to increase yields, and ultimately profits. “My concern is that you’re going to see an expansion of heroin use by just adding amounts of fentanyl,” he said. Fatal even in small doses, fentanyl’s infiltration into heroin elsewhere has put users at an increased risk for overdose and death. With a 10-milligram “deck” of heroin selling for $25 on the island, the amount of fentanyl needed to cut a single hit is minimal. “The amount of powder that gets somebody feeling good from fentanyl and the amount that will kill you — you can’t eyeball that,” Dr Schultz said. “The amount is even smaller to create a high-risk of toxicity, overdose and death,” Government of Bermuda analyst Nadine Kirkos echoed. Prior to fentanyl’s recent arrival on island, Mr Field-Lament said the drug wasn’t really on “the radar” of police. In fact, fentanyl was not technically illegal when it first showed up, and required fast tracking to add to the Government’s list of banned substances, he said. Ms Kirkos, however, said that the Government had been tracking the issue for some time. “Fentanyl has certainly been on our radar for a while,” she said. “But obviously we can only test what comes in.” Testing of the drug, as well as identifying its effects, also presents a myriad of problems. According to Mr Field-Lament, results on tests ordered into suspicious deaths have taken an “inordinate amount of time, from a policing perspective” to receive. “The capacity on the island to do a very timely toxicology report is not there,” he said. “And that’s one of the things we’re trying to address.” Test results can typically take six to eight weeks to be returned, Mr Field-Lament said. Results on tests ordered relating to three “incidents” in 2017 remain outstanding. “The problem is we are an island,” Ms Kirkos said. “You have a large bureaucratic pathway to go through to be able to ship something away.” Samples dating back to 2013 are also being re-screened for the drug, she said. Fentanyl also does not show up on standard tests, making the diagnosis of an overdose by the drug by first responders and health practitioners particularly difficult. After the death of 25-year-old Christopher Spencer in 2015, the use of Naloxone — a drug used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose — was approved by all emergency medical technicians without a doctor’s approval following a coroner’s recommendation. Naloxone, commonly sold under the brand Narcan, is now carried by all EMTs. “The drug will save lives,” Dr Schultz said. “What I advised all my colleagues in the emergency department when we found out fentanyl is on the island, is that if anybody comes in under this profile, we need to give large amounts of Naloxone and you’re not going to be able to test for it, so don’t be deterred by negative tests,” he added. A national strategy to address fentanyl is currently being developed, Mr Field-Lament said. “Certainly if your loved one is an addict, you should be aware of the dangers,” he said.
2017. February 17. People caught with less than three grams of cannabis will receive formal cautions, under a new “three strikes” draft policy unveiled by Director of Public Prosecutions Larry Mussenden. On being arrested for a third time, the offender will have to undergo drug assessment or drug counseling or face being sent to court for prosecution. In a statement, Mr Mussenden said that under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a provision was created to allow the DPP to give guidance for a formal police caution policy for appropriate offences. “Thereafter, I announced that I would consider a guidance for a police caution policy in respect of simple possession of cannabis,” he said. “I stated that I would welcome input from the community. Also, at that time I reached out to various agencies for their views on a police caution policy for simple possession of cannabis. I have drafted a guidance for a police caution policy for simple possession of cannabis. I am pleased to release a draft of the guidance for a caution policy today as information to the general public. I intend to formally bring the guidance for a police caution policy into effect once the Police and Criminal Evidence Amendment Act 2016 is brought into operation by the Honourable Attorney-General by way of a notice in the Official Gazette.” He said that in order to create the policy, he consulted with a number of bodies and members of the public, who provided a wide range of recommendations. “The submissions ranged along the spectrum of how a police caution policy should be structured from a blanket caution for all cannabis to having a limited number of cautions, and to having some conditions in order to obtain a caution. Other aspects were urged such as reducing the number of people being convicted, preventing the harmful impact of drugs on society, preventing initiation and use of drugs in youth in order to protect the developing brain, protecting minors from drug use which leads to drug abuse as an adult, preventing unintentional accidents, preventing diversion of funds to drugs and to promoting health education generally.” The key points for the policy as laid out by Mr Mussenden are:
If the conditions are met, then a third caution will be issued — otherwise the offender will be sent to court for prosecution. On a fourth arrest within two years of a third caution, the offender will not be eligible for a fourth caution. Upon two years passing from the date of the third caution, an offender is re-eligible for a first caution. “It is a pleasure to release this guidance for a caution policy for cannabis,” Mr Mussenden concluded. It is designed to steer offenders away from the courts with all the consequences arising from convictions, builds in a three strikes policy, and involves counseling and drug testing. The policy is designed to allow our people to pursue their life and career objectives and to be productive, healthy and successful members of the community.”
2017. January 23. A Jamaican national was named yesterday as the third person charged with a plot to supply the controlled drug Fentanyl. Maurice Martin was charged in Magistrates’ Court of a single count of conspiring with others between an unknown date and December 20 to supply the synthetic opioid. He was not required to enter a plea as the matter will be heard by the Supreme Court. Two Canadian nationals have previously been charged in connection with the same incident. The 33-year-old was released on $150,000 bail with a like surety, under the conditions that he surrender all travel documents and report to the Hamilton Police Station on a daily basis. The matter is expected to appear before the Supreme Court in March.
2016. December 29. The Bermuda Police Service has said officers have discovered the controlled drug Fentanyl on the island. The drug — a synthetic opioid — is associated with the misuse of heroin and has been linked to multiple fatal overdoses. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Fentanyl is a dangerous, powerful Schedule II narcotic responsible for an epidemic of overdose deaths within the United States. Detective Superintendent Sean Field-Lament said: “The BPS Drug Unit is conducting an investigation and we have informed our public safety and healthcare partners of the associated risks. We will work with our partners to formulate a more detailed response in the coming days, but in the meantime we would like to draw the DEA’s safety precautions regarding Fentanyl to the public’s attention: exercise extreme caution, be aware of any signs of exposure and seek immediate medical attention.”
2016. May 25. In the UK. so-called legal highs were banned. Visitors from the UK and elsewhere should note that all these drugs have never been legal in Bermuda. They include Methylphenidates which are promoted as cocaine alternatives which are also known as the following: Ritalin, propylphenidate, Posh, Opaline, Gogaine, Fake Cocaine, Evoke, ethylphenidate, Ching, Burst, Banshee Dust. Synthetic cannabinoids which are also known as the following: X, Tai High, Hawaiian Haze, Spice, Mary Joy, Exodus Damnation, Devil's Weed, Clockwork Orange, Bombay Blue Extreme, Blue Cheese, Black Mamba, Annihilation, Amsterdam Gold, are also banned in Bermuda.
2016. April 25. A Cannabis Reform Collaborative was formed in 2014 to determine if legislative changes are needed but the changes it recommended to reduce the illegality remain on the shelf two years after they were presented to the Bermuda Government. Until then, it remains illegal and persons in Bermuda and all visitors discovered to be importing any narcotic face huge fines, imprisonment and being banned indefinitely from visiting or residing in the USA and other countries.
2015, November 20. Marijuana, heroin and cocaine remain the most commonly used illegal drugs in Bermuda, according to the annual report from the Bermuda Drug Information Network. The study by the Department of National Drug Control, provides analysis of trends in drug use in 2013 and 2014 according to a press release from the Ministry of National Security, it presents national data on the nature and magnitude of use and misuse of legal and illegal substances in Bermuda and represents the work of a broad spectrum of agencies and departments engaged in drug prevention, intervention, treatment, counseling, rehabilitation, enforcement, interdiction, and health. The release states: “Drug use is a difficult and complex phenomenon to monitor. This report serves the purpose of providing a comprehensive overview of the current drug situation in Bermuda using multiple sources and indicators, with the intent of providing insight into the different aspects of the drug problem.” The report monitors and accounts for local drug-related information from about 30 data providers, covering some 45 drug control areas, and providing measures for more than 150 indicators. Since last year, it has expanded to include four new measures and one new survey. Drug use prevalence has remained constant among Bermuda’s residents over the past ten years, with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana the most commonly used substances among the general adult population and youths, while the heroin and cocaine remain drugs of choice for problem drug users. Since 2014, drug-related crime has declined and there were no cases where drug use contributed to the underlying cause of death. Michael Dunkley, the Premier and Minister of National Security, stated: “The Government is committed to a healthier and safer Bermuda and an interconnected balancing of drug control efforts in both supply and demand reduction. Drugs continue to jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of people throughout the world; and Bermuda is no exception, as substance abuse continues to negatively impact our island extensively. Drug use prevention cannot occur unless there is change in our social attitudes toward alcohol and drug misuse.” The report can be found at www.dndc.gov.bm.
To avoid arrest for any type of illegal narcotics, such as but not limited to cannabis, liquid ecstasy, magic mushrooms, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. don't import them. Bermuda laws do not permit the sale of marijuana or any other narcotic drugs for any reason, not even for any alleged medical purposes. Even so-called "legal highs" of the type sold in some places in the UK are illegal here. It applies to those who arrive by any means - air or cruise ship or yacht. Locals, tourists and visitors are not given any breaks. UK European, USA and Canadian laws don't apply in Bermuda. Excuses that the drugs are needed for medical reasons are deemed spurious, irrelevant, immaterial and not accepted.
If you live in Colorado or Washington State or anywhere else that has legalized marijuana or any other narcotic drug in any way, don't bring it to Bermuda. It isn't allowed here under any circumstances. Your home-state policies don't apply and are not recognized in Bermuda and you'll be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Bermuda law, regardless of whether you are cruise-ship visitor or airline passenger visitor or working newcomer or Bermudian or non-Bermudian resident.
Do not bring them to Bermuda! Yet despite this warning, Bermuda-bound cruise ship passengers galore are caught and convicted, spoiling their vacation and earning a permanent Bermuda and worldwide criminal record.
Cannabis sativa. Marijuana. One of the many narcotics for which there is zero tolerance on Bermuda, not even for medical use.
There is a total zero tolerance policy and crews of cruise ships and drug couriers are known as major importers. Bermuda Police and Customs Officers work very closely with their drug enforcement counterparts in the USA and elsewhere. Narcotics officers travel on every Bermuda-bound cruise ship, with drug-sniffing dogs and more and are given complete freedom by every cruise line whether in American, international or Bermuda waters to enter cabins of suspects at any time of the day or night, whether the cabins are occupied or not, when passengers are awake or sleeping, without a warrant, to make detailed searches and arrest suspects. They can routinely search and often act, either for no specific reason or on tips from passengers and crew who detect smells and unusual behavior. They work closely with staff on all the cruise ship lines serving Bermuda and when necessary call on the services of their Cruise Ship Enforcement Team. Detection systems are now very sophisticated and include drug-sniffing dogs employed for the task at the airport and on cruise ships. Despite warnings, arrests and convictions happen every day. Penalties for not complying are very harsh in Bermuda for even the smallest amount, with separate criminal charges for importation, possession, intent to supply and more - and with substantial repercussions elsewhere as well, as their names, passport numbers, social security numbers, and more are circulated to overseas authorities.
There have been many cruise ship and other visitors, crew members and others caught with drugs. Those arrested are charged, remanded in custody and possibly face several serious charges including importation with intent to supply. When visitors are caught and convicted of having illegal narcotics, they may lose their scheduled airline or cruise ship departure dates because they will have to remain in Bermuda until their court cases are scheduled, 5 days or more later; will not be able to apply for refunds; will be officially deported; and will have files on them given to police forces in other countries. Some complain, thinking their constitutional or other rights have been ignored, which is complete rubbish. They are expected to obey the laws of the land or pay the price.
Cruise ship passengers are strongly recommended to read, learn, inwardly digest and pay strict heed. The full list of the hundreds of banned narcotics are in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005. It is not an excuse if you fail to make yourself familiar with the contents of the full list. Claims they invariably offer that they do not have the money to pay the fines are routinely ignored. They are remanded in custody or are put on bail with their transportation tickets impounded until they do. One reason officials in Bermuda are so tough is because fines are revenue to the Bermuda Government and the Customs Department is the source of the biggest of all revenue departments of the Government. So, unlike many other countries where Customs procedures appear to be relaxed and tolerant, the Bermuda system is neither. The discovery rate is over 70%. Cruise ships, their crews and passengers are automatically suspected now, especially since a huge stash of over 15 kilos of cocaine - valued locally at over US$4 million - were seized from a cruise ship recently.
Under no circumstances - except for specific, limited duration sporting occasions which include competitive shooting - are visitors and new residents allowed to import or own unlicensed (under Bermuda laws) guns of any kind, not even BB or pellet guns or slingshots. Penalties for doing so are severe. Only when such sporting events occur can participating athletes and/or their sports organizations apply well in advance to be allowed to import their firearms under a temporary Bermuda Government-issued Firearms License. Only they or the Bermuda Police or Bermuda Regiment or some other Bermuda-recognized entity or their registered members authorized to do so may hold Bermuda Firearms Licenses to possess and use Bermuda-licensed firearms in Bermuda.
Offensive and defensive weapons of any kind, like real or fake or toy firearms (guns) of any type, including flare guns and any ammunition; any kind of weapon to deter thieves or intruders; catapults (slingshots); BB guns; cutlasses; crossbows; mace in canisters; pornographic material; throwing knives; flick knives; martial arts weaponry; nightsticks; nunchakus; spiked wristbands; swords; spear guns, all pistols, all rifles, all ammunition for them, signal guns, all other weapons and all live marine animals (including lobsters) by any private individuals. Residents, visitors, and businesspeople who ignore the above will have their weapons seized permanently by the Bermuda Police Service and those convicted will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They will get a minimum ten year jail sentence for illegally importing the weapons into Bermuda and will be publicized and reported to Federal or provincial or state authorities for illegally carrying firearms on ships or aircraft. It is not an acceptable excuse to say you were not asked by airport staff if you packed your bags yourself, because you were. Nor is it acceptable to say that you forgot an illegal item was in your luggage, or was put there by mistake.
Snakes. It is illegal to bring snakes into Bermuda either as a business or a private citizen.
Bermuda Customs Officers took over from Bermuda Immigration the procedure for arrivals in early 2002. Be prepared for lines (queues) at the Immigration desk, then Customs duty counter, then Customs inspection queue. There is now a "green light" or "nothing to declare" system as in North American, Irish and European airports. After claiming luggage from the carousels, go through Bermuda Customs. Declare a medically prescribed drug.
If at a hotel and a Customs Officer notes you are bringing nothing illegal and have no items to declare, you may be waved through. If not staying at an hotel, you and your luggage will probably be inspected, possibly thoroughly.
85% of all visitors are from the USA and assume, incorrectly, that in Customs exemption of duties for visitors - from wherever they may be - and returning residents, Bermuda has the same very generous laws as the USA. Unfortunately, this is not the case. By comparison with the USA, Britain and Europe, Bermuda greets its visitors with tiny personal allowances, almost no customs-duty free allowances for gifts. (Visitors may bring in, duty free for personal use only while they are here, their clothes and articles like cameras, golf bags, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 0.454 kilos (1 pound weight) tobacco; 1 liter of liquor or wine and a token $30 gift allowance). To avoid being arrested and having goods confiscated, do not try to import goods into Bermuda without paying the duty. And for returning residents there are extremely strict laws, regulations, controls and miniscule allowances compared to the generous procedures allowed in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, etc. for their returning residents. Items brought in by visitors and residents that are not within their duty free category incur a stand import duty rate of 22.25% of purchase cost. Produce receipts from a retail store satisfactory to the Customs Department of actual purchase price of the items or be prepared for the Customs Department to assess items for your payment of duty at much higher Bermuda prices. This is applied vigorously.
Compare the following:
Normally, in the USA, for visitors or returning residents, the duty-free allowance or exemption from Customs Duty is $400 per trip, but from November 4, 2002, it was raised from November 4, 2002 to $800 (from $400) for those who have not used the exemption in 30 days.
In Bermuda, returning residents are allowed an allowance of only US$ 200 (until 1989 it was US$400 a person, reduced in 1990/91 to US$250 a person and subsequently reduced yet again to US$100 per person, now back since 2015 to $200 a person after severe international criticism) before they pay duty on items they bring but visitors are not entitled to such an allowance.
All visitors and residents arriving by air or cruise ship are now being given the following form by airlines and cruise ships and are required by the Bermuda Government to complete them on both sides before they clear Bermuda Immigration. No other country requires this form.
Bermuda Customs are now very, very tough on the rising number of duty evaders with more court cases plus on-the-spot fines at the airport. Failure to comply with customs regulations result in penalties for false declarations and prosecution of more cases involving serious commercial fraud. Duty cheats can also get a criminal record. Individuals who evade duty are liable for penalties of up to $12,000 or five times the duty payable while commercial duty cheats are subject to fines of up to $100,000. Customs officers make on-the-spot penalty assessments at the Airport Baggage Hall with officers given discretion about the levels of fines.
If you bring any foodstuffs with you, check with Bermuda Customs to know what is legal and dutiable as the case may be. Only Bermuda Customs can be the definitive source of information in this regard. Write in advance to Bermuda Customs at Hamilton Hall, 40 Front Street, Hamilton HM 11, P. O. Box HM 2084, Hamilton HM HX, Bermuda. Some fresh, frozen or cooked fish can be brought in providing the packaging is free of algae or seaweed.
Most Consumer and electronic goods can be imported if determined to be free of narcotics, subject to import duty.
Owners of arriving animals, plants, flowers, fruits, shellfish and products and vegetables must have proper documentation approved earlier by the Bermuda Government's Department of the Environment. All plants brought in by residents and visitors by air or via the Post Office must have documentation approved in advance by the Plant Protection Laboratory or they will be confiscated and referred to that facility for extensive plant inspection for any pests or problems. Residents and visitors should note that under the Fisheries (Protected Species) Order 1978, the Queen Conch (Strombus Gigas) and the Harbour Conch (Strombus Costatus) are illegal to import, an offence to purchase and possess and illegal to take from Bermuda waters.
To ensure that persons do not pay duty again on goods they export temporarily for their personal use, they should register duty paid articles, via Customs Form 52a, before their departure. They can do so before a Customs Officer at HM Customs Main Office; or General Post Office - Parcel Post; or Airport Customs Passenger Arrivals Hall prior to check-in for an airline flight; or Airport Customs Long Room Freight Shed; or HM Customs Yacht Reporting Facility, St. George's.
April 13, 2019
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