Schoolgirl, woman held with ganja at airport

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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PARISH Judge Maxine Ellis yesterday raised concerns about the parental guidance that is being given to a 16-year-old St Catherine High student who was recently charged after allegedly attempting to smuggle almost six pounds of ganja out of the country.

The minor was arrested and charged with Shelly-Ann Thompson, a 26-year-old bartender of Charles Town, St Mary, after a total of 5.7 pounds of ganja was found in false compartments at the bottom of two suitcases they were travelling with, at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. They were heading to Barbados.

Both were charged with possession of ganja, dealing in and taking steps to export ganja. The minor was offered station bail while Thompson was offered $200,000 bail by the court. However, she is yet to take up the offer.

When the case was mentioned yesterday, Judge Ellis raised concerns about the guidance that is being given to the minor following confusion about her address.

The court was told that she was living with her grandmother in Berry district, St Catherine, but left to stay with Thompson because of a difficulty that arose and would sometimes stay with the 26-year-old at her boyfriend's home in Exchange, St Ann.

This prompted the judge to enquire about her parents. However, she was told that the minor's mother was overseas and that her father, who is not very involved in her life, lives in Mandeville.

“I can't have this child floating around. She has been charged with a serious crime and it has highlighted the need for serious parental guidance,” Ellis said, noting that the grandmother cannot be a parent when it is convenient to her.

“A lot of parents go abroad and go and come, and don't know what is happening out here with their children,” she added, noting that the Child Protection and Family Services Agency needs to find the teen's father and find out what he is doing about his daughter.

She, meanwhile, ordered that the child is to reside with her grandmother.

In the meantime, attorney Cardena Clarke, who is representing both accused, told the court that she is yet to take instructions from her clients, hence they were unable to plead.

Thompson was remanded while the minor's bail was extended. They are both scheduled to return to court on May 22.

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