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Drug importation pair’s sentences increased on appeal

Two US citizens found guilty of the importation of $102,400 worth of cannabis resin have had their sentences increased by the Supreme Court.

Marley Watkins, 39, a resident at the time, had his original Magistrates’ Court sentence of nine months, with three months suspended, more than doubled to two years, with eight months suspended.

Co-accused Adanessa Infante, 31, from New York, admitted two charges, one of conspiracy to import the drugs and attempting to take $3,500, the proceeds of crime, off the island.

She was sentenced by a magistrate to six months, with three months suspended, on each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently but the higher court increased the sentence to 18 months, with no suspension.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “The relevance of the street value of controlled substances is underpinned by Section 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act where the level of criminal penalty may be made contingent on the street value of the controlled substance concerned.”

Mrs Justice Subair Williams added that the value of the drugs in an earlier case where the value of the cannabis resin was more than 60 per cent less had resulted in a higher sentence.

She said that “a court of this jurisdiction expressed a view that a basic sentence … would fall somewhere around two years of imprisonment”.

Mrs Justice Williams added: “It is difficult to see how anything less than a basic sentence of 18 months would have been applicable to either respondent.”

The two appeared in Magistrates’ Court in June and pleaded guilty to the offences.

The Supreme Court heard that the pair had already served their sentences and been deported by the time the judgment was handed down on Tuesday.

Alan Richardson, for the Crown, said that appeal was not lodged with the intention of adding time to the pair’s sentences.

He explained that it was “to seize the opportunity to invite this court to confirm the proper sentencing tariffs and approach in cases of the like, for the sake of good precedence”.

Mr Richards added that there was little prospect of successful extradition of Mr Watkins or Ms Infante to serve the added time on their sentences.

* This story has been updated to add a copy of the judgment and a link to the judgment.

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