A man was yesterday sentenced to three years in jail by Senior Magistrate Leron Daly after he admitted to having just under nine grammes of ganja.
The charge against Michael O’Brian stated that on March 20th, 2019, at Kitty, he had the cannabis in his possession for the purpose of trafficking.
O’Brian pleaded guilty to the charge and begged the Senior Magistrate for mercy.
According to police prosecutor Sanj Singh, on the day in question at about 10.30am, police ranks were on patrol duty in the area when they saw O’Brian acting in a suspicious manner. A search was conducted on him and a quantity of leaves, seeds and stems were found in five zip-lock plastic bags in one of his pants pockets. O’Brian was subsequently arrested and carried to the police station where the said cannabis was weighed and amounted to 8.69 grammes.
In addition to the three-year sentence, O’Brian was also fined $30,000.
However, the sentence sparked public outrage as many called for a review of the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. In light of the circumstances, attorney Nigel Hughes offered legal representation to Mangal’s family and had been working on the appeal.
In recent years, the imposition of harsh sentences by the magistracy has come in for scrutiny and fuelled calls for a review of the laws.
In wake of the widespread outrage that was triggered last May by the sentencing of a farmer, Carl Mangal, to three years in jail for the possession of 8.4 grammes of cannabis for trafficking, both parliamentarian Michael Carrington and the Alliance For Change (AFC) renewed calls for the repeal of heavy custodial sentences for possession of small quantities.
President David Granger subsequently said that Cabinet had approved the removal of custodial sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana and the necessary amendments to existing legislation would be made after the parliamentary recess last year. This has not yet materialised.
Mangal’s jail term was overturned on appeal after the High Court found that the presiding magistrate failed to ascertain whether the facts presented against him were true.