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St Thomas native fined for cannabis possession

- said he forgot he had it in his pocket
Eric Phillips at the magistrate's Court on November 1, 2013. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Eric Phillips, 56, received some sage advice from Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards when he appeared before the court today, November 1, 2013 charged with possession of a controlled drug.

The St Thomas, USVI native pleaded guilty to the charge and apologised to the court for the offence afterwards, “I made a mistake and now I have to pay for it,” Phillips said, “I ask the court’s mercy on this charge please.”

According to the Crown, Phillips arrived on June 2, 2013 on a Native Son Ferry from St Thomas and he approached the Customs section and was asked whether he had anything to declare; he indicated that he had nothing to declare.

However, upon entry the metal detector went off and he was asked to empty his pockets. Along with other items, a small container was discovered with vegetable matter suspected to be cannabis. Police were later contacted and questioned Phillips about their suspicion.

After he confessed to the offence, Phillips reportedly told officers that he had forgotten that the substance was in his pockets. He was later arrested and placed before the courts.

Phillips, who was unrepresented, told the court that he works as a self-employed auto technician and is the father of three young children.

He also revealed that he had been smoking marijuana for the past four or five years and this prompted the magistrate to enquire further about the troubles he might be facing. “I used to drink and I stopped,” he related.

Phillips said he attempted rehabilitation in his home country but his plans were unsuccessful. He also stated that his drug habit costs him $30 each week.

In counselling the defendant, Magistrate Richards remarked, “I’m not supposed to be giving you this, you’re supposed to be telling me.” She added that considering his age and hers, this was a case of the roles being reversed. He also related that he was diabetic.

She told Phillips that he would not want to have his daughter’s friend point out, “Your father deh on the road burning corn” and advised that he be a role model to her. “You have to do better,” Magistrate Richards said.

You don’t know my fines

Asked what brought him to the Territory on the fateful day, the man replied that he had just been coming to enjoy himself for the day. He was reportedly travelling to attend horse races at the time the incident occurred.

Magistrate Richards enquired whether Phillips had walked with any money to pay a fine for his offence upon his guilty plea and he related that he had walked with $500. He was then told, “You don’t know my fines.”

The magistrate noted that her fines for possession of a controlled drug were usually very heavy and related that they were usually in the region of $700-$800 per gram. She noted that she offers persons before the court an opportunity to seek help at the Sandy Lane Centre for drug treatment and counselling.

Magistrate Richards said she would be lenient with the defendant since he had come to court on each occasion that his matter was called and offered a guilty plea on the first opportunity. He was handed a $500 fine and discharged.

8 Responses to “St Thomas native fined for cannabis possession”

  • x factor (01/11/2013, 15:46) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    well saw tis lady aint easy
  • oh (01/11/2013, 16:02) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Pure injustice for a lil herb that the Most High created. This is pure B.S.
  • Mick Mars (01/11/2013, 17:01) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    $700 - 800 a gram (a dime bag or 10 dollars worth, enough for one joint and not even that if you gah bigger papers) for the common man, a self employed dude, but the fines and calculations really do waver dependent on your status and what you can do for certain people (Store manager with wild friends, I lookin' at you.).

    The man had enough for a joint. He HONESTLY forgot it or else I think he woulda hide it someplace better comming into the territory. Just take it from him and destroy it and give him a $100-200 dollar fine and let him be on his way, nuh? You ain't catch him blazing it, you ain't catch him with enough to a gram.

    While the judge was lenient in this case, we really need to set protocols on how to handle this thing, man.
  • NICK (01/11/2013, 20:39) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    may be time to legalize.
  • . (02/11/2013, 10:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    who paid for his ticket and departure tax to go back st.thomas or was he deported??
  • CommonSense (02/11/2013, 12:46) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Just a classic case of harassment of the public for no sensible reason.
    All this time, money, harass and school ma'am ticking off for a tiny amount of vegetable matter!
    Seriously, BVI, just like much of the rest of the world, it's time we took a good look at our marijuana policies.
    To decriminalize it would not send a message that it's good. But it would send a message that the system/the law/the police/the government are not completely stupid. In cases like this, that's how they look.
  • pretty (03/11/2013, 12:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    remember we all go to St Thomas. so be careful. .just saying. .
  • BRONZE NAZARETH (04/11/2013, 12:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I don't want VINO to get a court order so I will be kind ....some people aspire for careers and position in life NOT to help but to act upon the many INADEQUACY they have in life.

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