Friday, 12 October 2012

Law report - appropriate sentence for importing cannabis

Hewey v Raynor [2012] SC (Bda) 54 App

The Appellant had been sentenced to eighteen months in prison for importing cannabis with a street value of around $100,000.

He had flown into the airport, having checked in a bag containing the cannabis, which he then left on the baggage conveyor belt. He said at the Magistrates' hearing that he had had a change of heart and so had just left the bag there.

Kawaley CJ held that it was open to the Magistrate to impose an immediate custodial sentence, given that:
  • the Appellant had said that he intended to leave Bermuda as soon as he was released from custody;
  • he had not cooperated to any great extent with the authorities; and
  • he had been at liberty for some years before the charges had been laid [14]
Furthermore, lack of previous convictions was not a mitigating factor for such an offence, given its planned nature and that it is common sense to employ individuals for smuggling who have no previous convictions [13].

This was not a case where the drugs were left at the airport as part of a plan to be recovered by an accomplice. It was one where the appellant had had a change of heart, or abandoned his plans part-way through it, and had left the drugs where it was extremely likely that they would be picked up by the appropriate authorities. [21]

Had he actually come clean at the airport and handed the drugs in, a custodial sentence might not have been required [21].

However, given his change of heart, a sentence of 12months was more appropriate [22].

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