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Man jailed for 12 years for smuggling heroin

A 26-year-old convicted of conspiring to import heroin was jailed for 12 years yesterday, while his mother received a suspended sentence for a money-laundering charge.

Damon Morris, of Paget, was convicted by a jury of conspiring to import heroin and possessing cocaine among other charges, and his mother, Denise Morris, also of Paget, 55, was found guilty of money laundering.

During their trial, a jury heard that, in December 2015, a passenger arrived in Bermuda on a commercial flight when an X-ray confirmed the items were inside his body. He subsequently excreted the items, which were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of $253,380.

Following an investigation, police arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs. During the arrest, officers also found 49.97 grams of cocaine and 10.14 grams of cocaine, with a combined value of $18,800.

In addition, they seized $15,210 which was in Denise Morris’s possession.

After a 7½-week trial, a Supreme Court jury found Damon Morris guilty of conspiracy to import heroin, possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of drug equipment.

Denise Morris was acquitted of the drugs offences, but was found guilty of possessing criminal proceeds in cash that were connected to the case.

Addressing the court on Friday, prosecutor Larissa Burgess said that Damon Morris had previous convictions and has shown no remorse, noting that he still maintains his innocence despite what she described as “overwhelming evidence”.

She recommended a total sentence of 33 years behind bars for Damon Morris, including 18 years for the conspiracy to import heroin and 15 years for the cocaine charges with the charges running consecutively.

However, defence lawyer Marc Daniels said such a sentence would be “manifestly harsh and excessive” as it would be significantly greater than sentences imposed for the importation of much greater quantities of drugs.

Given all the circumstances, he said a sentence of between eight and ten years in prison would be appropriate, arguing that any more than 12 years in totality would be the upper limit the court should consider.

And while Ms Burgess called for a sentence of 12 months in prison for Denise Morris, defence lawyer Susan Mulligan argued that a conditional discharge would be appropriate given the impact the charges have already had on her.

Ms Mulligan told the court that her client was embarrassed and humiliated by the charges, had lost her relationship with her son and was at risk of losing the job she has held for 30 years.

Delivering her sentence, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons noted that Denise Morris had no previous convictions and had done much service to the community.

“To any bystander, they may feel she has been punished enough,” she said. “Circumstances call for more than a conditional discharge, but present circumstances merit a suspended sentence.”

She subsequently imposed a 12-month sentence, suspended, adding that there was no need for further supervision.

However, in the case of Damon Morris, Mrs Justice Simmons said a message must be sent by the courts, noting the damage that drugs do to the community.

She said that there were no mitigating factors in his case, saying that he has shown no remorse for his actions, only to the damage they have done to his family.

Mrs Justice Simmons sentenced Damon Morris to 12 years behind bars for the conspiracy to import heroin, 10½ years for the cocaine charges and one year for the possession of a scale, but ordered those sentences to run concurrently.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.