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Caymanian gets suspended sentence for ganja charges

Published:Friday | December 16, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A Caymanian man has been fined a total of $363,000 and given a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to charges of possession of ganja, dealing and taking steps to export more than 109 pounds of ganja and a quantity of hash oil.

He is 29-year-old Matthew Brown who was spared from prison after his lawyer Dionne Meylor-Reid made an impassioned plea for leniency after he was given a mandatory 12-month prison sentence.

Resident Magistrate (RM) Collymore Gordon set aside the prison sentence he had imposed on Brown and his co-accused, 52-year-old Jamaican Arthur Garvey. They had pleaded guilty to the charges.

The men appeared in the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court, Westmoreland, last week Friday.

They were fined the maximum of $15,000 each for possession, for dealing they were each fined $348,000, and for taking steps to export they were sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment at hard labour.

After the mandatory sentences were passed, Meylor-Reid pleaded with the judge to give them suspended sentences. The RM told the men that if they were convicted of any offences within the next three years, they would have to serve the prison term. No removal or deportation order was made for Brown.

Brown, a plumber in the Cayman Islands, and Garvey, a wholesale jeweller of Sheffield, Westmoreland, were held along with Garvey's common-law wife, Annetta Ralph, on November 11 at Brown's home, with 109 pounds of ganja, five pounds of hash oil, along with a compressor, jack, transparent plastic wrap and a scale. Ralph pleaded not guilty and the Crown offered no evidence against her.

Garvey, under caution, said the contraband was destined for the Cayman Islands, while Brown said he was at the location to smoke ganja.

The maximum sentence for ganja possession in the Cayman Islands is 20 years' imprisonment.