A Bent Street shopkeeper was yesterday sentenced to three years in prison after she was found guilty of drug trafficking by a city court.
Natasha Jordan, 35, of ‘PP’ Bent Street, Wortmanville, was found guilty of being in possession of 43 grammes of cannabis for trafficking by Magistrate Judy Latchman.
Jordan, who was charged in April, was also fined $64,500 by Magistrate Latchman at the conclusion of her trial yesterday.
During the course of the trial, several witnesses were called, including Corporal Tooknauth, who was present during the drug raid, while there were three witnesses for the defence, including the 14-year-old son of the defendant.
Magistrate Latchman stated that she had found the three witnesses who appeared on behalf of the defence to be ones of convenience and so did not give weight to their testimonies. She said also that she believed Tooknauth to be a credible witness in the matter and, thus, acted on his evidence.
In Corporal Tooknauth’s testimony, he had told the court that a team from the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) went to Jordan’s Bent Street residence on the afternoon of April 10th. There, he said, they approached the shop, where he saw Jordan through the grill place a black plastic bag into her underwear. He related that he asked her to remove the bag and she complied with the request. A quantity of leaves, seeds and stems were later found concealed inside.
When the narcotics were discovered, Jordan then reportedly told the officers, “Is me brethren pass and I buy it for $4,000. I don’t sell all the time.”
The magistrate, in her ruling, declared that she believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in the shop when the police arrived. She further stated that she believed the evidence presented by Tooknauth relating that he asked Jordan for the bag and she gave it to him. The magistrate said that it was her view that if the narcotics had been found on the counter of the shop, both Jordan and her son would have been taken to the station. As such, she found Jordan guilty of the offence.
The defence had tried during the trial to persuade the court that the picture being painted by the prosecution was inaccurate.
According to their claims, the police had gained entry to Jordan’s shop forcibly by breaking a padlock secured to the grill. They claimed as well that the defendant was not at the shop when the police arrived, but was upstairs and had been called down by her son.
Jordan’s attorney stated that she had not been shown the bag containing the narcotics until later at CANU headquarters.
He further questioned why the photographer who accompanied the team had waited until they got back to headquarters to photograph the substance rather than take the shots at the scene when the narcotics were found.
When the sentence was passed down yesterday, Jordan’s attorney, Dexter Todd, expressed his intention to have the ruling appealed.
Under Guyana’s laws, possession of narcotics for trafficking carries a minimum sentence of at least three years in jail.