Gavin Paul, on trial for trying to smuggle over two kilos of marijuana on a flight to Imbaimadai, said the bucket of paint containing the drug was going to be used to paint his shop, a police witness testified on Tuesday.
Paul, of Lot 24 Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, is accused of having possession of 2.542 kilogrammes of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking, following the discovery of the compressed substance in a bucket of paint on February 23, 2013. At the time he was checked in for a flight to Imbaimadai, at the Ogle International Airport.
Testifying before Magistrate Alex Moore, who is presiding over the trial at the Sparendam Magistrate’s Court, Police Corporal Baggot, a narcotics officer attached to the airport, said that while screening Paul’s articles he thought it is was odd that he was taking only one bucket of paint to the interior.
He said he inquired what the paint was for and in response Paul said “to paint my shop.” The officer then opened the can of paint in Paul’s presence and placed a pointer into the contents, which led him to realise that something was obstructing it from reaching the bottom. As a result, he used a steal rod to retrieve the contents, which were revealed to be four parcels wrapped in a brown paper and sealed with yellow scotch tape.
Baggot then used a knife to cut open the four parcels and found leaves, seeds and stems concealed within them. They were weighed and samples taken and sent to the Criminal Investigation lab, where it was confirmed to be cannabis.
Under cross-examination by Paul’s lawyer Gwendolyn Bristol, Baggot was asked how he was sure that the bucket of paint belonged to her client, Baggot said he asked Paul why he was taking paint to the bush and was informed by the defendant that he had a shop and was taking the paint to paint it.
Also testifying was Police Corporal Thuknaught, who testified that Paul was called to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, where he wrote a confession statement and was cautioned before he signed it, in the presence of his daughter. The statement was brought to court as an exhibit. Bristol, however, argued that her client only signed the statement after being informed that it would not be used against him in court.
Monalisa Braithwaite, a Flight Operations Officer attached to Air Services Limited, also testified on Tuesday, saying that she weighed and tabulated the weight of Paul’s four pieces of luggage for the chartered flight to Imbaimadai, recorded the same on the flight’s manifest and advised him to proceed to immigration for security screening in preparation for takeoff.
Paul, who is on $250,000 bail, will return to court when the trial continues on August 13.