British Virgin Islands

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

Women Caught With Cannabis, $$ Dodges Prison Time

Women Caught With Cannabis, $$ Dodges Prison Time

Two women from Belmont, West End could count themselves lucky as they avoided up to 24 months at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut after they were found guilty of proceeds of criminal conduct and possession of a controlled drug.
Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo on Monday, November 23, sentenced Caroline Hodge-Clarke 41 and D’Janne Varlark 24, to a term of two years imprisonment, suspended for two years for the offence of possession of a controlled drug, namely 741 grams of cannabis.

In the meantime, for the offence of proceeds of criminal conduct, the women who were also jointly charged received a nine-month custodial sentence also suspended for two years.

The sentences are to run concurrently, which means that they would have spent no more than two years in total behind bars. This also meant that the women would only spend 24 months if they re-commit an offense within the next two years.

“I don’t see an imprisonment would be beneficial to society,” Magistrate DaBreo said, referring to the reason behind the suspended sentences.

She also referred to a letter from Dr. Michael Turnbull, a clinical psychologist, which was written to the court on behalf of the women. In the letter, Dr. Turnbull said, the women are ‘heavy users’ of cannabis, and they also suffer from depression.

The Magistrate said she do not believe Dr. Turnbull would try to mislead the court.

Meanwhile, the magistrate ordered that the $24,980 found in the women’s home would be forfeited to the Crown.

Varlack was also fined $130 for possession of 680 grams of cannabis while her co-accused, Hodge-Clarke, was fined a total of $125 for possession of a small quantity of cannabis.

In default, the women would spend four days for each fine if they do not pay by December 17.

The women were caught on December 7, 2018, in Hannah’s Estate, Tortola by police who were at the time responding to a tip about a firearm being in the possession of Hodge-Clarke.

Instead, the search unearthed the drugs, and later when a search of their home was conducted, the cash was found stashed in a transparent bag behind a mirror in a bedroom.

Defence attorneys Nelson Samuel and Stephen Daniels represented the women.
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