Cruise ship waiter guilty of conspiring to import drugs
A Jamaican waiter was yesterday found guilty in Supreme Court of conspiring to import more than $424,000 worth of cocaine into the Island.
Ricardo Stewart had denied conspiring with Adrian Morris and others to import the cocaine to Bermuda on the Explorer of the Seas, where the pair worked.
The court had heard that 32-year-old Stewart from Ocho Rios, had masterminded the plot. It fell apart after packages containing 3.9 kg of cocaine were found hidden under a chair in the ship’s disco.
The drugs had an estimated street value in Bermuda of between $424,500 and $735,375, depending on how it was sold.
CCTV footage from the vessel revealed Morris placing the drugs. When interviewed, he admitted his involvement in the drug plot, telling police that Stewart had offered him money for his part in the scheme.
A search of Stewart’s cabin revealed no drugs, but US $4,900 was found hidden in a box of laundry detergent.
According to Kelnile Bushay, another ship employee arrested during the investigation, passengers would take the drugs on and off the boat, with crew members stashing the drugs around the ship while the vessel was travelling between destinations.
During his testimony, Mr Bushay told the court that Stewart was the connection between the guests and the crew.
Morris pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy, but Stewart maintained his innocence, saying he barely knew his alleged accomplices and was not involved in the drug trade.
In his closing statements yesterday, Crown counsel Carrington Mahoney told the Supreme Court that the Stewart was not just involved, but the mastermind of the operation.
“This man was the ring leader of this crew on the ship,” Mr Mahoney said. “He was the man who knew the ins and the outs and did the recruiting.
“He had to do it on the down low, but unfortunately for him, the operation fell apart when Morris was caught on video. He panicked and he started to talk.”
Mr Mahoney argued that phone records from the ship supported Morris’ claim that as soon as the drugs were found, he went to Stewart.
“Don’t you find it curious that of all the crew that Morris immediately ran to [Stewart’s] cabin when the drugs were discovered?” Mr Mahoney asked.
“If this man had nothing to do with it, why would Morris be running to him the first time he realised he was going to be caught?”
He said that in his testimony, Stewart admitted lying to police about an associate named Mark in Jamaica. He told police Mark was a contractor; in court he said he was only involved in the construction industry.
“He lied to the police about something like that, which had nothing to do with the case,” Mr Mahoney said.
“This issue is essentially one of credibility. Clearly, Morris was not the only person involved.”
Stewart’s lawyer Marc Daniels told the court that there was no physical evidence linking his client to the drugs, only the testimony of Morris and Mr Bushay.
“This thing is really all about what someone says about Stewart,” Mr Daniels said. “It’s all about what’s been said by Morris.
“There was no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking Stewart to the drugs and there was no evidence linking him to a conspiracy.”
He argued that Morris could have lied in his testimony in an attempt to garner a reduced prison sentence.
“When you have an operation like this, you need a fall guy. You plan for every possibility, even coming down to when happens when you’re caught,” Mr Daniels said.
“[Morris] was no angel. He knew what he was getting in to. He had a reason to lie. This was his motive.
“The police wanted the boss, but all they got was a story.”
Mr Daniels also targeted inconsistencies in Morris’ statement, specifically that while he told police he expected to be paid $1,500 for his part in the drug plot, he gave the figure of $1,000 in court.
“The first time you carry drugs, the first time you do something like this, and you cannot recall how much you’re getting out of the deal? Really?”
After around two hours of deliberation, a jury of five men and seven women found Stewart guilty of conspiring to import cannabis by a majority vote of ten to two.
Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ordered Stewart remanded in custody until sentencing.
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