(Trinidad Express) Sixty-eight year-old grandmother Grace Pierre-Holder and 29-year-old Daenah John-Finn were yesterday found guilty by an eight-member jury of having cocaine in their possession for the purpose of trafficking.
They were at the old Piarco International Airport waiting to board an American Airlines flight to London, via Miami, on February 10, 2000, when police officers discovered that they had packages of cocaine concealed in the male Clarks leather shoes they were wearing.
Pierre-Holder of Simon Street, Gasparillo and John-Finn of Old Southern Main Road, Claxton Bay Junction, Claxton Bay, were taken to the Women’s Prison at Golden Grove yesterday evening to await sentencing by Justice Carla Brown-Antoine.
They have been ordered to re-appear on Thursday when their attorneys are expected to make pleas of mitigation on their behalf in the Fifth Criminal Court in Port of Spain.
Senior Counsel Theodore Guerra, who represented Pierre-Holder, and attorney Ravi Rajkumar, who represented John-Finn, asked the court to consider allowing the women to remain on bail until sentence was passed but the request was not acceded to by Brown-Antoine.
The guilty verdicts were announced shortly after 6 p.m. yesterday after the jurors deliberated on the evidence for three hours.
Relatives of the women, including Michelle Leslie — the daughter of Pierre-Holder who testified that she was the one who gave her mother the shoes to wear, broke down in tears as they (the prisoners) were led away by police officers.
Leading evidence on behalf of the State were attorneys Renuka Rambhajan and Taterani Seecharan.
The court heard that the bust was made at around 7.20 a.m. by Sgt Miguel Montrichard, Sgt Michael Charles (now retired), Corporal Lincoln Bonnet and Michael Peters who were all attached to the Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit.
Leslie and John-Finn’s boyfriend, Jason Connell, were also arrested on the morning of February 10, 2000 wearing Clarks shoes with cocaine hidden in the inner soles.
All four were scheduled to return to Trinidad on February 13.
Connell was found guilty on May 11, 2006 at the Arima Magistrates Court and ordered to pay TT$25,000 forthwith or serve three years in prison. The fine was paid.
Leslie pleaded guilty on January 30, 2008 and was fined TT$50,000 by an Arima Magistrate. She testified on behalf of her mother who did not give evidence.
Leslie said she was the one who provided the shoes for her mother to wear. The shoes, she said, were provided by her (Leslie’s) lover and father of her child.
John-Finn said Connell, whose father was Leslie’s lover, gave her the shoes to wear because of the cold London weather and she too was unaware that she was carrying anything illegal.