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Tearful grandmother fined for importing drug

A tearful tourist grandmother apologised as she was fined $2,000 yesterday for the importation of drugs.

American Wendy Incatasciato told Magistrates’ Court she was sorry for her actions and that she used the drug to help relieve the symptoms of migraines and stress.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe told the 65-year-old, from Staten Island, New York, to take home the message to other potential visitors that Bermuda did not tolerate people who tried to bring illicit substances to the island.

Kenlyn Swan, for the prosecution, said customs officers on duty at Heritage Wharf in Dockyard carried out routine checks on the gangway of the Norwegian Escape cruise ship on Wednesday.

They searched Incatasciato’s bag and found three rolled cigarettes inside a black spectacles case.

Ms Swan said: “She admitted the cigarettes were hers and that they contained marijuana.”

Officers also found electronic vaporisers with cartridges, which Incatasciato admitted belonged to her and contained oil with THC — a main constituent of cannabis.

The prosecutor added: “When asked, the defendant admitted to customs officers that she also had a little marijuana in her cabin on the cruise ship.”

Officials searched the cabin and found further substances and plant material, which were later sent for analysis.

The court heard police were called and Incatasciato was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station, where she confirmed that the items all belonged to her.

Ms Swan said results from tests of the substances showed that the total amount of cannabis found was about 9.3 grams.

Incatasciato admitted the offence.

Vaughan Caines, the duty counsel, said his client appealed for “the mercy of the court”.

Incatasciato, who was accompanied by her daughter in the courtroom, said: “I truly apologise ... I’m really so sorry.

“I’ve never been in trouble, I’m a grandmother of two.”

She told the court: “I get very bad migraines, I have a severe stress disorder and it helps me, especially with the migraine headaches.”

Mr Wolffe confirmed that she was aware that the offences could lead to a jail sentence and asked: “Why shouldn’t I lock you up?”

Incatasciato, who fought back tears, said: “I’m begging you, please, let me get back to my ship.

“I promise I won’t ever come back here.”

She added: “I’ve never been in a court, I’ve never been in a police station.”

Mr Wolffe fined her $1,500 for the cannabis charge and a further $500 for the THC.

He said: “You need to send the word back to Staten Island, New York, that we have some very harsh laws in Bermuda when it comes to drugs.”

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