'Simple' farmer was easy target, says lawyer
Man, 66, pleads guilty to cocaine charges; fined $1.9 million
A file photo of a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine being tested.

MONTEGO BAY, St James - A defence counsel on Monday argued that his client's vulnerability made him an easy target for manipulation, which led to his involvement in narcotics smuggling.

The man, a 66-year-old farmer from Alexandria, St Ann, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined a total of $1.9 million for attempting to smuggle cocaine and ganja, which were discovered in his suitcase on a flight destined for England from Sangster International Airport.

The defendant, Alan Reid, pleaded guilty to possession, dealing, and attempting to export 16 pounds of cocaine, in addition to possession and attempting to export 2.71 ounces of ganja.

In mitigation, attorney-at-law Martyn Thomas stated that after reading the social enquiry report and taking instructions from him, he concluded that Reid was a simple man.

"Because he is so simple it seems as if he is easily influenced and falls prey to persons who wish to take advantage of him from time to time," the lawyer explained.

Thomas added that his client was promised no form of compensation for taking the narcotics to the United Kingdom. According to him, Reid was given the items shortly before his trip and was just told to take them to England and someone would collect them from him.

"We submit that he had no choice but to plead guilty because he should have checked these items before he took them," Thomas told presiding judge, Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley.

Thomas emphasised that Reid had no prior criminal record and had led a law-abiding life until the unfortunate incident. He further highlighted that Reid's actions were out of character and asked that, given his age, the judge impose a suspended sentence and allow him to return to his community, to which he has always contributed.

In handing down Reid's sentence Smith-Ashley stated that he would have lived long enough to be aware of all the obvious dangers.

"I note your explanation, but there is something called wilful blindness... It is sad, because for all this time you have had an unblemished record," the judge remarked.

She did, however, consider his age, his past good record, and the fact that Reid accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty, but she also noted that she had to balance all of that with the seriousness of the offence and the large amount of cocaine involved.

In addition to the mandatory 10-month term of imprisonment, Reid was ordered to pay a fine of $1.2 million or be imprisoned for six months for possession of cocaine, and $700,000 or six months for attempting to export cocaine. The sentences are to run concurrently if the fines are not paid.

He was admonished and discharged for dealing in cocaine.

For the possession of ganja he was fined $1,000 or 30 days' imprisonment, and $5,000 or 30 days' imprisonment for attempting to export the weed.

The facts are that on October 1 last year, at 3:20 pm, Reid was preparing to board a flight to Manchester, England, when he was intercepted by officers at one of the airport's security checkpoints. His luggage was searched and six packages of cocaine, along with two packages of ganja, were reportedly found.

Under caution, Reid reportedly said, "Paul gave me the bags yesterday," although it was not clarified who he was referring to.

He was subsequently arrested and charged.

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