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Musician gets one year in prison for cocaine

Published:Saturday | April 25, 2015 | 4:00 AMChristopher Thomas

Kevin Tapper, one of the six entertainers who were arrested in a cocaine bust at the Sangster International Airport last December, was yesterday sentenced to one year imprisonment at hard labour, when he appeared for sentencing in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's (RM) Court.

Thirty-seven-year-old Tapper, who had previously pleaded guilty to possession of, dealing in, and attempting to export three and a quarter pounds of cocaine, was also ordered by presiding magistrate Natalie Hart-Hines to pay fines amounting to $250,000.

During Tapper's sentencing hearing, his attorney, Peter Champagnie, informed the court that his client had cooperated fully with the police investigators from the outset of the case.

"The moment Mr Tapper was approached at the airport, when told that the officer was going to do a security check on his person, Mr Tapper complied ... . Later that evening, he admitted that he swallowed some pellets as well. He gave full cooperation with the police from the inception," said Champagnie.

"He needed surgery on his knees, his mother was not in the best of health, and he yielded to the temptation. He has spent approximately two months and two weeks in custody. I ask Your Honour to take that into account as well," the attorney continued.

Chided defendant

In handing down Tapper's sentence, Hart-Hines chided the defendant for taking the route of drug trafficking.

"I think, Sir, that despite your circumstances, this should not have happened. I do feel that the only sentence appropriate is a custodial sentence," said the magistrate.

In addition to a mandatory 12-month custodial sentence, Tapper was also ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 or spend six months in prison for possession of cocaine; and $150,000 or six months for attempting to export cocaine. He was admonished and discharged for dealing in cocaine.

The custodial sentences are to run consecutively if the fines are not paid.

Tapper was among six persons who were arrested on December 18, 2014, after they were reportedly held with varying amounts of the illicit substance prior to boarding a flight out of Jamaica.

Two other members of the group, Garth Jobson and Ramone Rowe, pleaded guilty and were sentenced following their appearances before the Montego Bay RM Court on Monday, March 23. Jobson was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000, while Rowe was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.

The remaining three defendants in the matter - singers Kharell Wisdom and Claudette Miller-Robinson, and entertainment manager Simone Bacchas - are currently awaiting sentencing in their respective cases. Wisdom is to be sentenced on May 1, while Miller-Robinson and Bacchas will be sentenced on May 14.