Court upholds decision that Mercedes Benz was lawfully seized in drug bust

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Justice Jo-Ann Barlow has ruled that the state has lawfully seized a white Mercedes Benz convertible following a drug bust on February 12, 2021.

The vehicle had the number plate PZZ 3304 and is reportedly owned by Godfrey Osbourne, according to a release from the Attorney General’s chambers.

According to the release, 3.156 kilograms of cannabis was found by agents of the Customs and Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) in the vehicle while it was driven by Troy Jacobs.

The driver and another unidentified occupant were jointly charged for trafficking in narcotics contrary to Section 12(3) of the Narcotic Drugs Act.

Following their arrest, the vehicle was detained by CANU officers pending the hearing and determination of the charges.

On November 22, 2021, however, Osborne, through his attorney, Lester Caesar, filed a Fixed Date Application against the Attorney General (a representative of the State), the Commissioner of Police and CANU.

Osbourne contended that he had no knowledge of the unlawful incident and he was not involved in or in any way implicated in that drugs bust. As such, he applied for the release of the vehicle.

But the State – represented by Attorney General Anil Nandlall SC, Senior State Advisor Loretta Noel and State Counsel Yonika Roland – contended that the convertible had not yet been forfeited to the State.

Therefore, it was argued that the vehicle was being lawfully kept in custody by CANU, awaiting a ruling from a Magistrate determining whether the vehicle is liable for forfeiture under the Narcotic Drugs Act upon conviction.

Consequently, the State argued, the Application was premature, unwarranted, and an abuse of process.
Justice Barlow, who heard the case at the High Court, accepted these arguments. The Court found that Osbourne has not submitted any evidence that the said vehicle was forfeited and that the vehicle was lawfully seized by CANU and not forfeited.

It was also found that the vehicle’s seizure has not yet reached stage to deal with third party rights and as such, that there is no basis to release the vehicle Osbourne.

Consequently, Osbourne’s application was dismissed. He was also ordered to pay $50,000 in costs to the Attorney General.

This ruling comes as the Attorney General’s chambers noted that the State intend to invoke the relevant provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act with greater alacrity.

Importantly, the release stated that the State intends to pursue the forfeiture of assets implicated in drug-related offences, and assets believed to be acquired from proceeds of other organised crime. Such assets include both moveable and immoveable properties.

1 Comment
  1. Matthew says

    The next steps should be an audit by the GRA of Mr. Osbornes declared taxes. If they match the amount of net disposable income required to fund such a nice expensive car, he may have a case and conversely if they don’t match. the amounts……then it looks suspicious.

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