Ganja trafficker free due to lengthy stay in police custodyPOSTED: 11/25/10 11:29 PM
St. Maarten – Junior Wayne Gardiner, a 35-year-old Rastafarian from Jamaica, became a free man again after his trial for importing 1,230 grams of marijuana to St. Maarten on October 2. The Court in First Instance sentenced the defendant to 7 months imprisonment, with 6 months suspended. Because Gardiner already spent the remaining time in pretrial custody, Judge Mr. M. Keppels ordered his immediate release.
Gardiner had traveled with the marijuana stuffed in sixteen separate packages hidden in cartons of fruit juice in his suitcase when he traveled from Jamaica to St. Maarten on October 2.
He freely admitted his guilt and to his intention to sell the drugs on the Friendly Island. The defendant even voluntarily told police that he made two earlier drug runs and that they had gone undetected.
Prosecutor Mr. R. Mud considered the charge proven and said that the defendant had probably acted alone. “Usually we are very strict with drugs related offenses and we make no difference between hard drugs and soft drugs. But we are dealing with marijuana here, and the defendant has been very open about what he did. Considering that Gardiner was still detained in a police cell, Mud demanded a 6-month prison sentence.
Defense attorney Mr. Z.J. Bary asked the court to give her client the benefit of the doubt. “He has been very open, and he even told things he did not have to tell. He spent five weeks too long in a police cell, and he is a first offender. The time he has served is enough.”
Judge Keppels came to the same conclusion, though she pointed out that the standard punishment for first offenders is a 12-month prison sentence with 6 months suspended. The Judge granted a 5-month sentence reduction for time Gardiner spent too long in a police cell.