By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 21-year-old corrections officer and his cousin were both fined $2,000 yesterday for being caught with almost ten ounces of marijuana over the weekend that the former allegedly planned to deliver to someone at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
Dennis Theophilus Watson, 21, and his 23-year-old co-accused Demal Daniel Cartwright were sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply.
Failure to pay the fine would result in both of them serving a year in prison, Assistant Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain said.
The arraignments came less than a week after another former corrections officer was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for attempting to smuggle 11 ounces of marijuana into the Fox Hill facility on October 5.
Concerning Watson and Cartwright, police reported that around 7.30pm on October 12, officers were on mobile patrol on Palmetto Drive off East Street when they observed a silver coloured Toyota Passo. The occupants of that vehicle seemingly noticed the officers and started acting in a suspicious manner.
As a result, the officers, via loudspeaker, beckoned the driver of the car, Watson, to bring the vehicle to a stop. After Watson complied with the order, the officers approached the car, identified themselves and informed both Watson and Cartwright that they would search them and the car.
Officers subsequently searched the floor on the front, left side of the vehicle in the presence of the two, where they discovered four packages of suspected marijuana.
Both Watson and Cartwright were subsequently cautioned and arrested. At the time of the arrest, police said Watson told them that the drugs were his and that he was supposed to take them to someone at the prison, while Cartwright denied knowledge of the drugs.
After being taken to a police station and interviewed under caution, however, Watson denied knowledge of the drugs and making the statement to police that he planned to take the drugs to the prison for someone, while Cartwright said the drugs were his.
Watson's attorney Allan Emmanuel, in making a plea in mitigation for his client, said while the young man made a "stupid mistake" that will "cost him", prison in the custodial sense is not the "right answer" for his problems and "no place" for a young man such as him.
However, Assistant Chief Magistrate Swain said she was concerned that although Watson was caught in this instance, "What about the times he got away with it?"
"I can't ignore the fact that he is a prison officer, so he should know better," she said.
Meanwhile, Cartwright's attorney Tony Scriven begged the magistrate to be "as lenient" as she "possibly can" for his client, who, given his young age, is somewhat of an "endangered species" in The Bahamas.
Mr Scriven further noted that his client has "taken responsibility for his actions" and requested that the magistrate review the "whole circumstances" of the matter in making her determination, including his client being a first-time offender.
To that end, Mr Scriven lamented the thought of his client being "thrown to the wolves" for his first offence.
Nonetheless, Assistant Chief Magistrate Swain fined the pair for their actions, but not before noting the misfortune the two cousins now have of having such a conviction documented on their police records for the rest of their lives.
"The fact that they're so young, 21 and 23, to be saddled with a record of intent to supply for as long as you live, is really, really sad," she said. "Hopefully you learn your lessons from this."