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Appeals judges dismiss all of the grounds against conviction for a pair of cocaine importers

Two men jailed for smuggling more than 2,000 grams of cocaine to the Island yesterday had their appeal against conviction dismissed.

Everett Jahni Bean, 31, and Randolph Anthony Simons, 46, were sentenced to 15 and 12 years respectively for conspiring, with others not before the court, to import cocaine, between a date unknown and January 7, 2011.

The court had heard the drugs were concealed with an air compressor in a box mailed from Trinidad, but the cocaine was intercepted by US authorities in Puerto Rico three days before the container's arrival in Bermuda.

Simons, described as the “pickup man” at the close of trial, was arrested on January 8 as he left International Bonded Couriers with the package. Asked by police if he was travelling with anyone, he responded: “Mr Bean on a red bike.”

Officers seized his phone and discovered a text message sent from a local number, stating: “Yo, don't do it.”

Another officer told the court that he had seen Bean riding through the area on a red motorcycle the morning of the arrest while holding a cell phone.

Bean was arrested later that day at his Warwick home and a search of the property revealed documents including a Western Union receipt to Trinidad and Tobago and phone records showing multiple calls to the nation.

Prosecutors argued that Bean had organised the pick up, and on the morning of his arrest had texted Simons warning him not to collect the package.

Both men maintained their innocence, denying any part in a conspiracy to import drugs. Simons told the court that he had spoken to Everett's brother Kahni Bean about collecting the package, but had no idea of its contents.

Bean meanwhile did not take the stand, but told police he had not arranged for or expected to receive any package from Trinidad.

Both men were found guilty by a jury following a Supreme Court trial, and subsequently appealed against their conviction.

Defense lawyer Richard Horseman, representing Bean, said the trial judge, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves, didn't properly address the jury on the identification evidence, which he described as “tenuous at least”.

And lawyer Shade Subair, representing Simons, argued that Mr Justice Greaves had misdirected the jury about the evidence of a conspiring to import the cocaine, saying he may have confused the jury into believing that Simons's actions on January 7 and 8 was enough to find him guilty of conspiracy.

In a written judgement issued yesterday, the Court of Appeals dismissed all of the grounds of appeal against conviction.

“Having looked at the entire directions of the trial judge as to identification, we are unable to say that the jury was not aware of the weaknesses of any of the identification, as pointed out by Mr Horseman,” the ruling stated.

The Court also ruled that the trial judge had made it clear to the jury that the defendants could only be convicted if they were satisfied that there was an agreement in place between the two and others prior to January 3, 2011, to import drugs, and that the collection of the drugs was a part of the agreement.

Lawyer Larry Mussenden, also representing Simons, subsequently appealed against his client's sentence, arguing that Simons played a lesser role in the offence and should have received a lesser sentence. No appeal against sentence was made on behalf of Bean.

After hearing argument from both Mr Mussenden and the Crown, the Court ruled that given the facts of the case, the sentencing judge should have put in place a greater difference between the two men's sentences. As a result, they reduced Simon's sentence from 12 years in prison to ten-and-a-half.

While both men remained silent while being taken from the court following the rulings, Bean violently kicked the court's door on the way out, causing a section of the door to crack.

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Published March 26, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 26, 2014 at 12:29 am)

Appeals judges dismiss all of the grounds against conviction for a pair of cocaine importers

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