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From The Archives: Magistrate’s ruling sparks heated row

From The Archives

From The Archives:  Magistrate’s ruling sparks heated row

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ATTORNEY Andrew Pilgrim had a heated argument with Magistrate Michael Beckles in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court No. 2 on Saturday after the court remanded his teenage client to Glendairy Prison pending sentence.

The events occurred after 17-year-old Kelvin Vernel Mayers, of Ellis Road, Bush Hall Yard Gap, St. Michael pleaded guilty to possession and trafficking of 30 spliffs and 19 cocaine rocks.

The police had executed a search warrant at Tedroy Gittens’ home at Military Road, Bush Hall, St. Michael, on Friday, where they found Mayers lying on a chair in the living room. The drugs were discovered in the cushion cover and he readily admitted ownership.

In mitigation, Pilgrim asked the court to be lenient with Mayers, a first time offender and said that it was not a policy of the courts to imprison first offenders for that quantity of drugs, which he said was valued about $150.

He added that his client had lost his job two weeks ago but was doing odd labour work and could afford to pay a small fine.

However, the magistrate told the attorney that as far as he knew, a traffickable amount was just that and liable to a sentence of imprisonment. He added that he was not aware of any practice by the courts not to imprison first offenders who had a traffickable quantity of drugs.

After telling Pilgrim that his submission was contradictory, Magistrate Beckles remanded Mayers to prison until Wednesday so that he could consider what the attorney had said.

But Pilgrim objected, stating that it was wrong to imprison his client for four days because he had made “contradictory statements”.

However, the magistrate maintained that he had already ruled.

Some minutes later, Pilgrim again raised the matter after another 17-year-old drug accused pleaded guilty and received bail with an order for a probation report.

The magistrate told him that the cases were not similar, since the latter youth was only charged with one case of possession of marijuana.

But Pilgrim argued heatedly that it was not fair for his client to be remanded for four days pending sentence when other persons with larger quantities of drugs had received fines.

He made reference to the Singh brothers case among others to reinforce his point.

It was then that Magistrate Beckles rose from his chair, ordered a ten-minute break and retreated to his chambers.

On his return, he told Pilgrim that he had made a decision, whereby the attorney politely asked to be excused, took up his belongings and left the courtroom.