Bermudian farmer jailed
HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – A 65-year-old Bermudian farmer who fled to the Bahamas after receiving threats at home has been jailed for six years for smuggling marijuana worth more than US$1 million into the island.
Howard Charles, who claimed he was driven to import marijuana in his farming supplies out of financial desperation, sobbed when he appeared in court on Monday as the sentence was handed down.
Charles was extradited to Bermuda from the Bahamas to be sentenced for the 2009 offence. He was deported home last year.
“Serious threats were made against Mr Charles – this was not a case where he decided to run away,” defence lawyer Victoria Pearman told the court.
“He was forced out of the country for threats against his life. I’m not seeking to diminish the criminality or his involvement but this was not someone who was simply absconding.”
Charles told the court he had agreed to import the drug after falling on hard times.
According to Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Cindy Clarke, the marijuana could have fetched a maximum of US$1.2 million on the streets of Bermuda.
The court was told that the drug was concealed in a container of agricultural supplies shipped on May 28, 2009 from the Port of Salem in New Jersey.
According to Pearman, Charles was approached because he imported large amounts of supplies for his animals.