Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Appeal Court frees former cop of ganja charges after eight-year wait

Published:Friday | November 20, 2015 | 11:32 PM

A former policeman has won his appeal against two ganja-related convictions exactly eight years after he was found guilty of the charges.

The appeal of Constable Heron Plunkett was upheld because it took almost seven years for him to get the notes of evidence and reasons for the verdict from the Resident Magistrate's Court in Portland.

His lawyer, Garth McBean, says despite the long delay in having the appeal heard, Plunkett will be seeking to get back his job in the force.

In overturning the convictions for possession of ganja and dealing in ganja, the Appeal Court also set aside Plunkett’s six-month prison sentence.

Queen's Counsel Garth McBean argued that Plunkett should not have been convicted because there was no proof that he had knowledge that the ganja was in his motor vehicle.

At the trial, evidence was given that there was a marked difference in the quantity of ganja that was found in the motor car and the amount that was sent to the government forensic laboratory for testing. 

Police officers testified that the shape of the packages found in the motor car was also different from the shape of the packages sent to the government forensic laboratory.

It was reported that at one stage rats had eaten some of the ganja as well as the masking tapes around the packages while the exhibits were at the Police Narcotics Division.

The Appeal Court judges agreed with McBean's submissions that Plunkett should not have been convicted because there was no proof that the ganja found in the motor car was the same ganja that was tested at the laboratory.

McBean argued that based on the state of the evidence, the Resident Magistrate should have had reasonable doubt as to whether Plunkett knew that ganja was in the trunk of the motor car he was driving when it was stopped by the police along the St Margaret's Bay Main Road, Portland in September 2006.

The car was searched and 48 pounds of ganja found in the trunk.

A man, who was also travelling in the motor car at the time, was also arrested.

In his defence at the trial, Plunkett said he had just picked up his vehicle from a car wash.

He said the man who washed his motor car was in the vehicle when the police stopped him.