British citizen sentenced to two years for cocaine smuggling

ST JAMES, Jamaica— A British man who was caught last month trying to smuggle cocaine onto a flight to England has been sentenced to two years imprisonment by the St James Parish Court.

David Thomas, 58, of London, England, was also slapped with a $3 million fine during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, after pleading guilty to the charges of possession, dealing, and attempting to export 16 pounds of cocaine.

During Thomas’ sentencing hearing, his attorney Michael Hemmings noted that his client pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity despite the fact that the Crown’s file had not yet been completed.

Hemmings highlighted an aggravating feature, revealing that his client had been convicted of a similar offence in his country 14 years earlier, and emphasised that it was unjustifiable for him to have ended up in this predicament once again. He said, however, that after 14 years, he had managed to stay on the right path, demonstrating that he is capable of being a law-abiding citizen.

The lawyer stated that his client is not beyond rehabilitation and would not reap any benefits if his endeavours were successful. He also referred to Thomas' caution statement in which he explicitly stated to the police that no promises were made to him.

Hemming said that duress was a factor, pointing out that in situations where duress is alleged, individuals are usually fearful and end up carrying the weight of responsibility alone.

The attorney stated that his client has shown remorse for his actions, admitting that the amount of cocaine was substantial, and asked that his client not be sent to prison.

“A fine can be imposed and he can be removed from the jurisdiction immediately and never to return,” stated Hemmings.

In handing down the sentence, presiding judge Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley pointed out to Thomas that, having previously walked this route and being aware of the consequences, it was unfortunate that, after 14 years, he had found himself in a similar situation.

However, the judge took into account Thomas’ early guilty plea and the fact that duress played a part.

“However, it is quite a bit of cocaine and we do have the issue of the previous,” the judge said.

In addition to the two-year sentence, Thomas was ordered to pay a fine of $1 million or spend six months in prison for possession of cocaine, and $2 million or six months for attempting to export cocaine, with the sentences to run consecutively if the fines are not paid. He was admonished and discharged for dealing in cocaine.

On May 3 at about 2:30 pm, Thomas reportedly checked in at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay to board an outbound flight to the United Kingdom when his luggage was subjected to a routine search.

READ: British man charged for cocaine found in luggage at MoBay airport

During the search, the drug, which attracts a street value of over J$3 million, was found concealed in four packages.

He was taken into custody and interviewed, during which he reportedly stated he had received the contraband from a certain location, but refused to divulge the identity of the source or location.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with breaches of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

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