Mother has money-laundering conviction quashed
A mother’s conviction for money-laundering has been quashed by the Court of Appeal — but her son’s sentence for running a drug smuggling operation was increased by six years.
Denise Morris was given a 12-month suspended prison term earlier this year after a jury found her guilty of possessing more than $15,000 in criminal proceeds that prosecutors said her son, Damon, had earned from drug dealing.
Ms Morris, 55, appealed against her conviction and the Crown appealed against the 12-year sentence given to Damon Morris on the grounds it was too low.
Damon Morris, 26, was initially jailed for 12 years for orchestrating a major drug smuggling operation to import large quantities of heroin and cocaine into Bermuda.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal overturned Ms Morris’s conviction and ruled there was no evidence to suggest that the $15,000 found in her bedroom closet was the proceeds of crime.
The panel also found that trial Judge Charles Etta Simmons had erred by not dismissing the charge against Ms Morris at the end of the prosecution’s case.
The appeal judges also ruled that Mrs Justice Simmons should have added an extra 50 per cent to Damon Morris’s prison term due to the seriousness of the drug offences and increased his sentence to 18 years.
Jurors heard at the original Supreme Court trial that in December 2015 an airline passenger was stopped as he arrived at LF Wade International Airport.
An X-ray revealed that he had swallowed several items that he later excreted and were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of $253,380.
Police later arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs after an investigation.
Officers also found 49.97 grams of cocaine and 10.14 grams of cocaine, with a combined value of $18,800 during the arrest.
In addition, they seized $15,210 found in Ms Morris’s bedroom.
A jury found Damon Morris guilty of conspiracy to import heroin, possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of drug equipment after a seven week trial.
Ms Morris was acquitted of the drugs offences, but found guilty of possessing criminal proceeds.
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