A Mahaut man, Tommy Henry, who in late 2017, was convicted on charges of possession of firearm, ammunition, cannabis, cultivation of cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply, on February 11, 2019 had his appeal against his sentence slightly varied by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal now sitting in Dominica.

Henry was fined EC$45,000.00 for the possession of the cannabis (six thousand grams) and for the possession of a firearm, $7,500.00. For the ammunition, he was fined $2,500.00 to be paid forthwith. That fine was paid immediately.

However, Henry did not pay the $45,000.00 or $7,500. Instead he appealed the $45,000 fine, calling it “excessive.” He had been ordered to pay that fine in installments of five thousand dollars within nine months and in default of any payment, 4 months jail.

His lawyer, Gina Abraham from the chambers of Wayne Norde, told the court that her client, a farmer, had suffered heavy losses after the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017 just a few months after his conviction and was not able to meet the installments. However, the court reminded her that the punishment of the court must be a “sting” and have its desired effect.

She also argued that since the maximum sentence was one hundred thousand dollars for the cannabis, the magistrates ought not to have used this as a starting point for his sentencing.

“We appealed against the sentencing for the cannabis. In our view, we felt that the Learned Magistrate erred in law when he started his calculations from the maximum sentence which by law, is one hundred thousand dollars. Our view is that he ought to have started with a notional sentence of what the court considers a starting point and that starting point should not have been the maximum,” Abraham said.

After careful consideration and deliberation, the judges decided to vary the fine of 45 thousand to 33 thousand in addition to the $7, 500.00 which was not appealed, making it a total of $40, 500.00 with the first payment to be made on March 1, 2019. The amount is to be paid in nine monthly installments as was directed by the magistrate. In default of any payment, Henry will go to jail four months.

“Although the discount is not much but again, it proves the point that magistrates should consider not necessarily the maximum fine when they are imposing sentence but a starting point if the matter had gone to trial; if the person was found guilty,”. Abraham stated.

The court of appeal continues its sitting at the Roseau High court.