Man gets three years over ganja for asthma

-denies cocaine possession, alleges police brutality

A man was yesterday sentenced to a three-year jail sentence for possession of marijuana, which he claimed that he used to medicate himself for asthma.

Dexter Prass, 49, an “iron labourer” of Germania Village, also admitted to being in possession of 15 ½ grammes of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking, for which he was also fined $10,000, and resisting arrest, for which he was also fined $15,000 with an alternative of five weeks imprisonment.

However, Prass denied additional charges that he was in possession of 2 ½ grammes of cocaine and possession of utensils used in connection with cocaine, for which he was remanded to prison by Magistrate Ann McLennan yesterday, who presided at his arraignment at the George-town Magistrates’ Court.

Prass told the court that he does not use cocaine and that although he pleaded guilty to being in possession of the cannabis, it was a lesser amount than what was alleged in the charge.

Prosecutor Bharat Mangru told the court that on June 27, Prass was seen acting in a suspicious manner with his fists clenched by a policeman in plain clothes, who proceeded to conduct a search on his person. The search uncovered a rock-like substance in his hands, the prosecutor said.

Further investigation revealed a quantity of leaves, seeds and stems, suspected to be cannabis in Prass’ pocket.

Upon the allegation being told to him, Mangru said, Prass behaved disorderly and pushed the police in a bid to prevent apprehension.

Prass, who adamantly refuted the charges, made a bail application on his own behalf, telling the court that what the prosecution said “was not the truth”.

“My Worship, no. No. Is not so much. Is lies. Is about five grammes, I would not lie to you. It is the truth. And I do not use cocaine,” he insisted.

“I buy $100 marijuana because I have asthma. I take water with it. ‘Drop Leaf’ deh call it”, Prass explained, adding, “First thing, the police did not state the truth how they met me the night. They did not state I was riding a cycle.”

Prass said when he was stopped, he was pulled off his cycle by the ranks, who mashed, kicked and cuffed him about the body.

“I ain certain was police because they were in plain clothes, so I fight them off. At the police station, they told me they cannot take me in in that condition. I was beaten and bruise bad. So I was taken to the hospital but they [the police] did not collect the medical. They had me in the lock up for eight days. I have no family in Georgetown, I don’t even know Georgetown. I asked them for food and they told me it is not their place to give me. Luckily I got some food from some fellow prisoners. Ma Worship I am in pain all over right now,” he told the court.

After the Magistrate asked for the medical, she was told by the prosecutor that he was not in possession of it.

Prass, at this time on the brink of tears, broke the silence of the court to implore the magistrate to ask the prosecution about his cycle. He was told that there was no record of it.

Prosecutor Mangru objected to bail, citing the seriousness of the offence. In addition, he said Prass had provided a different address to the one he mentioned to the court. This, he said, suggested the likelihood of him not returning to court as the police may not be able to locate him.

After hearing the submissions, Magistrate McLennan announced that Prass was sentenced to three years imprisonment along with a fine of $10,000 for the possession of cannabis charge, and fined $15, 000 with an alternative of five weeks imprisonment for the charge of resisting arrest.

On the charges of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of utensils used in connection with the substance, to which Prass pleaded not guilty, he was remanded to prison until July 30, when the case will be called for report and fixture of his trial.

A disgruntled and distraught Prass left the courtroom decrying the decision.

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