Cocaine in corilla trafficker draws maximum five years
Kitty resident Sherwin Bentick was yesterday found guilty of stashing 13 kilos of cocaine in corilla for shipment earlier this year, and was sentenced to five years in prison together with a $30,000 fine by Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.
Bentick, a 29-year-old vendor of Lot 56 William Street, Kitty was on trial for the offence at the Providence Magistrate’s Court.
According to the case presented by the prosecution, on February 19 at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, Bentick trafficked in narcotics by transporting and exporting cocaine. According to the facts of the case, Bentick who is a licensed shipper had made bookings to ship cargo through Caribbean Airlines to Canada via Trinidad.
He went to the airport and presented 81 pieces of cargo, which included boxes of mangoes and baskets of vegetables, including corilla. The cargo was processed and shipped on flight BW 424 and the shipment was checked in Trinidad by law enforcement authorities.
There the authorities uncovered 13kgs of cocaine stashed in corilla. Bentick was later arrested by CANU officials who carried out investigations in collaboration with the Trinidad authorities. Witnesses from that country had also testified during the trial. Bentick was represented by attorneys-at-law Lawrence Harris and Stephen Lewis.
At yesterday’s hearing, the magistrate asked the defence if they wanted to say anything in mitigation before she handed down the sentence.
Harris opted to speak and said that his client was the only breadwinner for his family and that he had never had any run-ins with the law.
He said too that since the matter occurred Bentick has been in prison and that should be taken into consideration (when handing down the sentence).
CANU prosecutor Oswald Massiah in response stressed that the illegal substance concealed in the corilla was destined for Canada and had it been intercepted there or anywhere else, a stain would have been left on the country. Massiah asked the court to hand down the maximum penalty so that it will be a deterrent to the defendant if he intends to pursue this same course in the future. After listening to both sides the magistrate handed down the maximum penalty for the offence; five years and a fine.
During the trail, defence counsel Lewis had submitted that the prosecution had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He contended that the analyst’s certificate tendered in evidence was not properly before the court, arguing that under the Evidence Act, it has to be tendered by an expert listed in the Official Gazette as an analyst. That person is a Trinidadian.
He had submitted too that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter since the crime must be committed within the jurisdiction of Guyana for the court to have jurisdiction. Since the drugs were discovered in Trinidad and not in Guyana, he said, that removed the jurisdiction of the court.
Massiah in response had submitted that the analyst’s certificate had been properly tendered and admitted and had stressed that although the drugs were found in another jurisdiction the offence was committed here. He pointed out too that according to several witnesses, the defendant was the one who had done all the transactions from the hiring of the truck to the purchasing of the vegetables up to when the items were taken to the airport.
When the case was first called in February before Acting Chief Magistrate Cecil Sullivan, Bentick had pleaded not guilty to possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking.