Drug dealer Harford jailed for five years
Alleged gang member Jakai Harford has been jailed for five years after admitting drug-dealing charges but being cleared of gun allegations.
Harford, who has twice been shot and also lost his brother to gun violence, filmed himself on his cell phone with the narcotics in question.
Police found cocaine and cannabis along with a gun during a raid at the defendant's home in Mission Lane, Pembroke in January.
A prosecution witness who told police that Harford had knowledge or control of the gun “is no longer co-operating and is not going to give evidence,” according to Ms Mulligan.
Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves described the 28-year-old as “a well-organised drug trader and businessman”.
He also called upon him as “a leader” to put a stop to the gang violence blighting Bermuda [see separate story.]
The accused man first went on trial at Supreme Court on Monday, having pleaded not guilty to possessing 118 grams of cannabis and 47 grams of cocaine with intent to supply.
The court heard from police witnesses that most of the drugs were stashed in the walls and ceiling of a derelict building in Harford's yard, packaged in twists ready for sale.
A semi automatic handgun loaded with a live bullet was also hidden in the building which was enclosed within the yard of the house by a 14-foot-high wall.
Detectives who detained Harford found $13,707 cash in his pockets. A further $19,000 was hidden in a laundry basket in a downstairs apartment where his mother, Valita Harford, lived.
The residence is located in an increased penalty zone due to being near a church, park and pre-school. It is also on the home turf of the 42 gang that Harford allegedly belongs to.
Although Harford denied all the charges at the outset of his trial, he pleaded guilty yesterday morning to possessing the drugs — worth more than $20,000 — with intent to supply. He continued to deny possessing drug equipment, in the form of scales and plastic bags, plus the handgun and bullet.
Prosecutor Susan Mulligan said the pleas were acceptable to the Crown and Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves directed the jury to find Harford guilty of the drug possession charges and not guilty of the firearm, ammunition and drug equipment charges.
When Harford was sentenced yesterday afternoon, Ms Mulligan explained his DNA was found on the drug wrappings, and video footage on his cell phone showed him handling the drugs and large quantities of cash in the derelict building at night-time.
However, she said, Harford's DNA was not on the gun and there was no cell phone video of him with the weapon.
A prosecution witness told police that Harford had knowledge or control of the gun but “is no longer co-operating and is not going to give evidence,” according to Ms Mulligan.
Defence lawyer Marc Daniels urged the judge to take into account Mr Harford's young age and the fact he pleaded guilty to the drug charges.
“Mr Harford has certainly had his share of pain and loss and he's in the position of wanting to move on with his life,” he added.
The judge replied: “But if you're dealing in drugs, you can expect violence, can't you?”
He ordered that the $32,707 found at the house be forfeited to the court as the proceeds of crime.
Harford has served time in prison before. He began committing crimes of violence and theft when he was in his late teens. In 2005, he was at the centre of a high-profile Supreme Court case when he was convicted of torturing a man by jumping up and down on his stomach and bursting his intestines.
Harford carried out the attack with three other men, and ended up being jailed for four years.
A judge talked to an alleged gangster “man to man” after jailing him yesterday, challenging him to help stop gang violence.
Carlisle Greaves told Jakai Harford to “try to bring your people together with the other people” to “bring an end to the nonsense”.
The defendant — an allegedly high-ranking member of the 42 gang — asked the judge to be lenient when sentencing him for drug dealing [see main story] because he's suffered from violence himself.
Harford was shot in the shoulder as he left a party in Southampton on Christmas Day 2007, and was later shot in the face as a taxi dropped him off at his north Pembroke home in March 2010. The second incident occurred just three months after his brother, Kumi Harford, was shot dead outside the same house.
During the trial of the Middletown gangster eventually convicted of Kumi Harford's murder, both Kumi and Jakai were named by police expert Alexander Rollin as high-ranking members of the rival 42 gang.
Yesterday, Harford, 28, told the judge he sold drugs because he was too scared to get a job after being shot. “I would like to apologise to the prosecution, the police, my family and the public for being out there selling drugs and having drugs in my house,” he said. “There are several different reasons that led me to do that. One of the reasons was after being shot I was scared to go out and find a job. I was shot on two different occasions.
“I was scared to find a job in Hamilton or whatever 'cos, you know, the guys that shot me are in the area I would work. I have to take care of my Momma. I lost my bro' and she has to take care of his two-year-old son. It's just been really hard on me.”
The judge heard that Harford had $13,707 cash in his pockets when he was arrested, and $19,000 stashed in a laundry basket in his mother's apartment. “The money I had — I was going away to live in England this August gone, just to take a little bit of strain of my Momma's head,” explained Harford.
“I'm still looking forward to getting off this Island completely. I just want to rid myself of this Island altogether. I'm not an angel, right, but I'm far from a devil in this situation. I would just like to have a little bit of leniency on me when it comes to the sentencing.”
Jailing Harford for five years, Mr Justice Greaves delivered remarks that he described as “counselling from one man to another man” .
He told Harford: “I hope when you get out again you find some way to change your lifestyle. I hope that you use your influence to bring to an end the nonsense that has been happening in this Country. I hope it is time that you try to bring your people together with the other people and let us live in peace. Is that a commitment that you think you can make?”
Harford told the judge he had “tried that already” through efforts to set up a meeting between gangs in Westgate.
“That's what I would love — as much as I have been through, I would live to see peace. I have suffered too much,” he said.
He asked the judge to knock a year off his jail term because of those efforts — but Mr Justice Greaves refused.
“You get out and seek peace and walk away from this life and encourage others do to the same and you will find rewards,” he told Harford. “The reward of me giving a year off is insignificant. There are many more years to live.”
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