A Cummings Lodge man was yesterday sentenced to four years in jail and fined $2.5 million after he admitted to swallowing pellets containing two pounds of cocaine and attempting to board a plane to Canada.
“I needed the extra money to help my family, pay for school fees and bills and to take care of my handicapped child,” Julius Fidel Watkins, 39, told Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in Georgetown, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of narcotics for trafficking.
Watkins told the court that he was really sorry for his actions and his plea for mercy was echoed by his attorney, who emphasised the fact that his client, who has an autistic child, is the sole breadwinner for his family.
The charge against Watkins, of 27 Second Street, Cummings Lodge, stated that between September 12 and September 15, at Woodlands Hospital and the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH), he had 960 grammes (equivalent to 2 pounds) of cocaine in his possession for trafficking.
Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) prosecutor Konyo Sandiford told the court that on September 12, Watkins was an outgoing passenger on a Fly Jamaica flight bound for Canada.
Sandiford said he checked in at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri and based on observations made by a CANU rank, he was approached and questioned and later escorted to the CANU headquarters, then to Woodlands.
Sandiford added that an X-ray was done on Watkins and it revealed round objects in his stomach.
He was then questioned by a CANU officer and when asked how many pellets he swallowed, he said 114.
Sandiford further stated that at intervals, from the evening of September 12 to September 15, Watkins released 114 pellets, suspected to be filled with cocaine, at the Woodlands Hospital and at the GPH. Two of the objects, upon retrieval, were empty, it was noted.
The court also heard that at some point, Watkins developed complications that caused him be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Woodlands Hospital and later at the High Dependency Unit at GPH, where he was under observation for surgery to extract the remaining pellets.
While at the GPH, Watkins indicated to CANU ranks that he understood the seriousness of the matter and provided a written statement to them to aid the investigation. On September 16, Watkins was discharged from GPH.