By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 43-YEAR OLD man who escaped police custody on Christmas Day told his lawyer he just wanted to spend Christmas with his mother and family.
Donald Lightbourne was arrested on Christmas Eve for possession of marijuana worth $30. According to his lawyer, Jomo Campbell, while being in police custody on Christmas Day, Lightbourne was not cuffed to use the bathroom and took the opportunity to leave the Quakoo Street police station.
Mr Campbell told The Tribune his client was remorseful and realised that he should not have escaped custody but said he really wanted to spend the holiday at home.
“While in custody he was having chest pains and seizures and that’s how he was hospitalised. Later when he was uncuffed to use the restroom, he went straight home in South Beach. This was Christmas Day. He voluntarily turned himself back him. He just wanted to go home to see his mummy and see his family.
“He admitted it was a silly thing to do. But he apologised to the court and the police officer who was overseeing him. He just really wanted to be home on Christmas Day. It was the whole fear of being arrested over Christmas and not being with family,” said Mr Campbell.
Magistrate Derrence Rolle imposed a fine of $1,000 for possession of $30 dollars-worth of marijuana and $1,000 for escaping police custody. The court ordered fine totalling $2,000 has to be paid by February 3 otherwise Lightbourne could face a custodial sentence of one year.
Attorney Campbell used Lightbourne’s case as an example of young men who end up paying high penalties or even prison time due to small issues relating to marijuana. Campbell said the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana will help young Bahamian men and also free up the court system.
“It costs the public thousands of dollars when these men get custodial sentence for small quantities of marijuana. Forced to be sent to jail for small quantities is wasting public funds. The courts are already inundated with these matters and our courts are already overburdened. Cases continue to be backlogged so some of these matters should not be coming to court in the first place,” said Campbell.
The Bahamas National Marijuana Commission is recommending that recreational marijuana be permitted for adults over 21 years old and medicinal marijuana for adults 18 and over.
The draft report from the commission recommends the legalisation of marijuana and decriminalising possession of the substance up to one ounce. The final report is expected to be reviewed by Cabinet.