2 years jail for mother who trafficked ganja to support four kids
A 35-year-old woman who confessed to trafficking cannabis to support her four children, was on Friday sentenced to two years imprisonment and slapped with a $754,000 fine.
Anitha Qualis of New Amsterdam, Berbice, made her first court appearance before Magistrate Crystal Lambert at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court on September 22, 2020, and admitted that on September 19, at Karrau Village Essequibo River, she had in her possession 503 grams of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking.
During a sentencing hearing on Friday, the woman’s attorney Siand Dhurjon pleaded for his client to receive a non-custodial sentence; non-custodial sentences are penalties that don’t include time in prison. It involves a promise of good behaviour for a set period, which may include a surety (guarantee or amount of money) and other conditions.
Attorney Dhurjon, in his plea, laid out a difficult life that his client has faced since she was a child; he said Qualis did not attend Secondary School and had her first child at the age of 15.
Dhurjon said Qualis was belittled, abused and suppressed by her long-time partner who eventually abandoned her.
According to the lawyer, his client recently lost her job at a snackette and felt an irresistible compulsion to do all things necessary to feed her starving children.
But despite his plea, the Magistrate handed down the two-year sentence, however, Dhurjon made a last attempt at keeping his client out of prison by applying for a suspension of the sentence under the Criminal Law Reform Act, Cap.11:05.
A suspended sentence means that a person can serve their time out of prison but would be jailed if they commit an offence during that period.
The Magistrate, however, denied the application on the grounds that she did not find sufficient reasons for Qualis to be given a suspended sentence.
The lawyer has since indicated that he will appeal the severity of the sentence and to seek her urgent release in light of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the prisons.
Following the first hearing in September when Qualis was unrepresented, Dhurjon was retained by an Essequibo businessman affiliated with an influential Muslim organisation to render services at no cost to Qualis.
The businessman has promised to provide gainful employment and counselling to Qualis upon her release.
The court had heard that on September 19 around 14:30h, ranks were on mobile patrol at Karrau Village when they observed Qualis acting in a suspicious manner.
The ranks intercepted Qualis, who then pulled out a black parcel underneath her clothes.
The bag was searched and compressed cannabis was found inside. She was arrested and taken to the Bartica Police Station.