Cannabis transporters get suspended sentence

Three men from Tanna have received two years suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of alleged possession of cannabis.

Tain Katsi, Samson Katsi and Jack Namapun were caught at the Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila with 5 kilograms of cannabis that they brought with them from Tanna.

The three defendants were caught after all three boarded a flight from Whitegrass Airpot on Tanna to Bauerfield in Port Vila.

Someone at the Whitegrass Airport reported them to the police in Port Vila and when they arrived at Bauerfield, they were apprehended.

They were interviewed by police and admitted they had brought cannabis with them from Tanna to sell in Port Vila.

In his judgment of the case last month, the Justice David Chetwynd stated that possession of a dangerous drug, and in Vanuatu cannabis is deemed to dangerous, is a very serious offence.

The maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

“Guidance has been given by the Court of Appeal in the Wetul Case.

“The start sentence will be 18 months imprisonment.

“There s nothing particularly aggravating about the offending.

“The amount involved were not small but i also bear in mind the lack of real evidence that what was tested (some 15 months after the defendants were detained) was what the defendants had on them.

“The chain of evidence is crucial in such cases and had the defendants decided to plead not guilty today, the prosecution would have been in some difficulty.

“As it is, the defendants readily accepted that what they had on them was cannabis,” Justice Chetwynd said.

The judge noted that none of the defendants had previous conviction and reduced their sentence by three months.

“There has been no explanation why, despite the defendants’ cooperation, it has taken an inordinately long time to bring this matter to Court.

“Their sentences will be reduced by a further six months leaving a balance of nine months,” the judge ruled.

Their sentence was further reduced by one-third for their early guilty pleas, leaving a balance of six months imprisonment.

“Looking at the nature of the crime, a rather inept attempt at selling drugs, and the character of the offenders this is a case where sentences can be suspended.

“I take in mind that that in the 18 months since arrest there has been no repetition and the defendants have not committed any other offences.

“The sentences of six months imprisonment will be suspended for two year,” Mr Justice Chetwynd stated in his ruling.

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