Court overturns three-year sentence imposed for 8 grammes of ganja

Four months after being sentenced to three years in jail for trafficking eight grammes of cannabis, renewing public concern over penalties for minor narcotics offences, Carl Mangal had the jail term overturned on Friday by the High Court.

Allowing an appeal Mangal had filed against the sentence, Justices Priya Sewnarine-Beharry and Sandil Kissoon, who heard Mangal’s challenge, declared that Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman, who imposed the three-year sentence, failed to ascertain whether the facts presented against him were true.

The judges said that the presiding magistrate failed to enquire from Mangal, who was unrepresented by counsel, whether the facts related by the prosecution against him were true and correct. The court noted in its ruling that after the charge was read to the defendant, to which he pleaded guilty, the prosecutor then presented the state’s case but at no time did the magistrate seek to ascertain from Mangal whether the facts presented against him by the state were true or not before imposing sentence…..