Cocaine plot cruise ship waiter gets 15 years
A Jamaican cruise ship worker has been jailed for 15 years for his role in a plot to smuggle nearly four kilgrams of cocaine into Bermuda.
Ricardo Stewart, 32, of Ochos Rios, maintained his innocence in an emotional plea before Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons at the Supreme Court.
A waiter aboard the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas, Stewart has been in custody since June on charges of conspiring with fellow employee Adrian Morris and others to bring the drugs into the Island. A jury last month found him guilty of conspiring to import.
Morris, also from Jamaica, was caught after CCTV on board the ship showed him stashing the cocaine. He told police Stewart had offered to pay him for his part in the scheme, and a search of Stewart’s cabin found $4,900 hidden in a box of detergent.
Morris pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court and has been sentenced to six years in jail. Another ship worker, Kelnile Bushay, testified that Stewart was the connection with guests who brought drugs on and off the vessel.
Crown counsel Carrington Mahoney told the court yesterday the drugs would have had a street value of $424,500 in Bermuda.
Mr Mahoney called Stewart the mastermind and the “big man” behind the scheme.
He said Stewart had been “using the cruise ship as a trojan horse” for drugs and taking advantage of his position there to recruit others for smuggling.
Standing before Ms Simmons, Stewart said: “This guy did this to set me up. I’m innocent. I’ve been working on the cruise ships for nine and a half years and taking care of my son and my fiancee and my mother. I’ve never been involved with anything to do with the law. These guys don’t like me; for what reason, I don’t know.”
Insisting that he worked to take care of himself and his family and that he had no need to sell drugs, Steward said: “I promised my son I would never be away from him more than six months. I’ve been locked up since June and the Crown wants to send me away 20 years. I will plead my innocence until I die.”
Ms Simmons told him: “The court finds you were the organiser in this scheme and recruited others to assist you. You have made protestations against the verdict of the jury and the testimony of your co-defendants, and you’ve maintained your innocence.”
Considering a sentence of 18 years, Ms Simmons said the court was mindful of Stewart’s two dependents his child and mother.
She then imposed a sentence of 15 years, with time spent in prison to be taken into account.
Defence lawyer Marc Daniels said afterwards that his client would appeal the conviction.
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