Cannabis importers’ two-year sentences upheld

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Two people charged with a conspiracy to import 1,729g of cannabis on a container ship have had their convictions and sentences upheld.

Kimisha Perinchief and Jermaine Butterfield were both jailed for two years for the 2015 plot. Perinchief argued successfully that mobile phone evidence that linked her to both Mr Butterfield and co-conspirator Romanito Adlawan should not have been admitted.

Appeal Judge Sir Scott Baker said: “In the circumstances, however, I do not think that it significantly prejudiced the appellant and I am satisfied that, absent the error, the verdict would have been the same.”

Perinchief, Butterfield and Adlawan were arrested in May 2015 for a plot to import cannabis on board the container ship The Somers Isles.

CCTV footage recorded Adlawan leaving the vessel with a backpack.

Prosecutors said Perinchief called Adlawan, directed him to the western side of a parking lot and left the area on Butterfield’s motorcycle. Butterfield then arrived in the area in Perinchief’s car, where Adlawan got into the passenger seat.

Police then stopped the vehicle, with Butterfield seen throwing $8,000 in US cash out of the car window.

Both men were arrested, and a search of the bag revealed 1,729 grams of cannabis.

Perinchief denied any knowledge of the drug plot and told the court she was not the person seen on the motorcycle in CCTV footage.

A jury convicted her by a unanimous verdict of conspiring to import the drug, but found her not guilty of possessing the drugs with intent to supply.

In her appeal, she argued that mobile phone evidence from the United States — which showed she had been in phone contact with her co-defendants — should not have been admitted.

The Court of Appeal found the Crown had not properly proven the mobile phone evidence, but given the rest of the evidence in the case, it was unlikely to have changed the verdict.

The Appeal Panel also dismissed appeals by both Perinchief and prosecutors against her sentence. Mr Justice Baker said: “With a starting point of three to four years and the modest mitigation of a previous good character, I regard the sentence of two years’ imprisonment as rather low.

“In light of the regrettable delay in bringing this case to trial, which was due in part to an unexplained delay of over five months for a decision from the judge on whether to quash the indictment, and the fact that the appellant now has a young child, I do not regard it as, in all the circumstances, manifestly inadequate.”

The panel similarly upheld Butterfield’s sentence, which was appealed by the Crown.

Mr Justice Baker said: “The case against Butterfield was that he was responsible for organising Adlawan and that he arranged for the mobile phones for himself and Adlawan.

“He recruited Perinchief because he could not travel to the United States due to his previous convictions. Those convictions were for drug offences, but were relatively minor.

“Perinchief’s involvement in the conspiracy was greater than Butterfield’s, but he was closely involved with the arrival of the drugs and was also guilty of conspiracy to supply.”

He added: “The judge heard the evidence and was well placed to form a view about the relative culpability of the two appellants and her view accorded with that of the Crown.

“We do not think that in those circumstances we should interfere.”

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