Wed | Jul 26, 2017

J'can jailed in Bermuda loses appeal against cocaine conviction

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 11:51 PM

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Nov 9, CMC -The Court of Appeal here has rejected an appeal by a Jamaican cruise ship worker, who was involved in a plot to smuggle US$53,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda more than three years ago.



Delroy Duncan was jailed for nine years in June 2012 after his co-conspirator, Clarence James - a fellow staff worker aboard the Royal Caribbean ship Enchantment of the Seas, was searched by customs officers as he left the ship in the western cruise port of Dockyard just before midnight on August 8, 2011.



James, a Vincentian, had 219 grams of the drug hidden in his sneakers.



He told police Duncan had been behind the conspiracy, but both men ultimately received the same prison sentence, which was later reduced to seven-and-a-half years.



Each had accused the other in the Supreme Court of masterminding the plot.



But in an affidavit filed with the court last year, James said he had lied and Duncan was innocent.



"It's been two years since I have been living with the burden of knowing that I caused an innocent man's freedom to be taken away. It is this which makes me want to confess what I consider to be a sin," James said in the affidavit.



"By finally being truthful about the matter, I hope that God's grace and mercy will bring me forgiveness and I sincerely hope that the Honourable Court accepts my confession and grants back to this man the freedom which he once had."



Duncan subsequently submitted "A Petition for Release from Prison" to the Governor of Bermuda. He also sent a letter to the Jamaican consul general saying he had been falsely accused.



Two damning pieces of evidence helped to convict Duncan at his original trial. James was in possession of Duncan’s cell phone when he was caught and a piece of paper in Duncan’s cabin had a local number written on it, the number used by the would-be receiver of the drugs in Bermuda.



A check of the phone showed a text sent to that local number just before James left the ship.



The message read: “My boy coming out in a shart (short) time. Stay close.”



Duncan had tried to appeal the sentence in December 2012, but in his dismissal of that appeal in January of 2013, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley shot down the accused man’s explanation of why he had the incriminating cell phone number in his possession.



James previously told police he was given the sneakers and drugs, as well as the cell phone, by Duncan.



Duncan said he loaned the phone to James, and had written the unfamiliar number down upon getting the phone back, in case James asked for it.



Justice Kawaley called that explanation “incoherent and inherently unbelievable”.



Court of Appeal President Edward Zacca, considering the case with fellow justices Sir Scott Baker and Sir Anthony Evans, ultimately agreed with Justice Kawaley’s finding that Duncan’s explanation for having the Bermuda number in his possession was fundamentally implausible.



The panel, in dismissing Duncan's appeal, also agreed that the wording of the text message, particularly the use of “my boy”, showed James could not have been the one who sent it.



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