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Man imported drugs for money to save leg

A 55-year-old man has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison for conspiracy to import almost 6,500 grams of cannabis.

Charles Paul, of Warwick, who said he committed the offence in order to save his leg via surgery, was caught trying to import the cannabis which was found stuffed in the pockets of an airbed on September 8, 2014.

Susan Mulligan, representing Paul, argued a series of mitigating circumstances to magistrate Archibald Warner including the dire medical condition of the defendant as well as his co-operation with the investigation.

This included an early guilty plea and the submission of several statements, one of which was made against an airport worker who offered to help him carry out the crime.

Ms Mulligan argued that some leniency should be considered as the defendant was not aware of the amount of drugs he was conspiring to import — an argument Mr Warner did not take into consideration.

“Couriers don’t normally know what they are carrying,” he said. “It makes no difference.”

The court heard how Paul had contributed to society having had his own business as a building contractor for more than 30 years employing ten people at any given time. In 2008, however, he was blinded in one eye following an accident.

He continued to work but had a series of heart attacks and a stroke in the following years. Complications arose during his treatment overseas and he now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest.

Poor circulation led to him having to have toes removed and he faced having his leg amputated; however he was told by a surgeon that his leg could be saved via a $30,000 procedure.

The court heard that Paul was unable to secure funds from financial aid and was refused assistance by the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association as he owed the charity money. Ms Mulligan said he tried other means but to no avail.

He was left with “two devilish choices”, Ms Mulligan said: to lose the leg or find the money buy some other means.

The court heard that Paul was approached by a member of staff who was in a “position of authority” at the airport about assisting with the crime — information that Paul later shared with the Police to assist them with their investigation.

It was argued that Paul be the beneficiary of a “supergrass discount” handed to offenders who help Police with their investigations. Ms Mulligan argued other mitigating circumstances that the court should consider and that the weight of the drugs be “put at the bottom of the list for consideration”.

Delivering his sentence, Mr Warner said that the overriding purpose of the law is as a deterrent, “to stop the drugs hitting the streets of Bermuda”.

Mr Warner said: “Ms Mulligan has forcefully submitted that the defendant’s dire medical condition, as submitted leading to his reasons for committing the offence, overshadows all other mitigation for the purpose of coming to the appropriate tariff.”

Paul was given a sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison, with two months taken off due to time already served in custody.

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