Canadian gets suspended sentence for cocaine smuggling
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Jenisa Willabus, the Canadian woman who pleaded guilty to smuggling charges after she was held with more than 40 pounds of cocaine last January, was given a suspended sentence in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday.
Willabus, who is of an Ontario address, in Canada, had pleaded guilty to possession of, dealing in, and attempting to export 403/4 pounds of cocaine in a previous court appearance.
Yesterday, the Canadian was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $800,000 or spend six months in prison.
The facts are that, on January 28, 2013, Willabus was preparing to board a flight to Canada at the Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, when her suitcase was searched and 17 food-drink packs and a number of cake-mix packages were found.
When opened, the packages were found to contain a white substance resembling cocaine. Willabus was subsequently arrested and charged.
Yesterday, during Willabus' sentencing hearing, her attorney, Martyn Thomas, told Resident Magistrate Carolyn Tie that the defendant had been instructed to pick up the items by someone with whom she was in a relationship.
"My instructions are that she (Willabus) was in a relationship with a young man in Canada, and he asked her to come to Montego Bay to pick up something, and she did so ... she was not paid anything for it," said Thomas. "She has pleaded guilty and has not wasted the court's time."
Thomas further stated that a report had been made to the Canadian embassy and the Canadian police.
Defendant's poor health
In passing sentence, RM Tie took a number of factors concerning Willabus into account, including the defendant's history of poor health during the duration of the case.
"Given the fact that she pleaded guilty, bearing in mind the time she has spent in custody, and bearing in mind her unusual circumstances with her health issues, this is what I will do ... I am giving her a suspended sentence of three years (in prison), suspended for two years," said RM Tie.
On the charge of possession of cocaine, Willabus was instructed to pay a fine of $400,000 or spend six months in prison. She was ordered to pay an additional $400,000 or six months' imprisonment for attempting to export cocaine. She was admonished and discharged on the charge of dealing in cocaine.
"This is not to be taken as a precedent, and I have distinguished this matter from any other matter," RM Tie noted after handing down Willabus' sentence.