I read a sad story in the newspapers where an Amerindian farmer was convicted for cultivation of marijuana. He was jailed by Magistrate McLennan after a guilty plea. His wife was charged with him. He told the court his wife did not know he was growing the stuff. He was unrepresented. The magistrate remanded his wife. He told the court he planted the stuff to build a home after his house was destroyed by fire and he lost his three sons.
So this man lost his home, lost all of his children, lost his liberty and his wife is in jail. How much more mental pain could a human bear? Surely, he must be at breaking point. It was disheartening to know he and his wife had no legal counsel. Get one thing straight – when you are in front of those magistrates no matter how tragic your story is, if you don’t have a lawyer, then you are in drowning waters.
I did not get hold of Minister Garrido-Lowe before editor’s deadline. I called several times. My request to the Minister is to seek an attorney for the wife to apply for bail. Can one imagine what is going through the head and mind of that man and his wife? Does the drug law allow for special circumstances in the case of cultivation? I know it does for very small possessions. For tiny amounts you can be slapped with a fine.
I know there are untold numbers who would say yes, he suffered terrible losses, but that doesn’t mean he should have gone and planted marijuana. Such an argument is a traditional one with strong plausibility. Countless people grew up in extreme poverty, but they didn’t steal and kill. But my question is, ‘Could there be considerate circumstances?’
My mind takes me to the situation of battered women who kill their abusive partners. Most courts around the world are not inclined to give the required sentence. Always there is the consideration that the man was a bully. Could such an analogy be applied to this luckless fellow?
Some really heart-breaking situations are found in Guyana. An 18-year-old looks for a better life in Suriname but was charged by the Guyanese police for leaving Guyana illegally, and a Berbice magistrate jailed this first offender for six months. For more on this see my column of October 22, 2014 captioned, “Every Guyanese should protest this decision by Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs”.
Juxtapose this against the decision by McLennan who fined a woman convicted of trafficking in humans. I guess the teenager was unlucky.
What about the fellow who lost both legs from hip right down on a trawler owned by Noble House? He was the sole breadwinner of the family, with four small children. At the time, the victim had a just born child. The matter is in court since 2009. Can one imagine how he feels? He is suffering on three fronts. He has no legs. He is still to receive compensation because the company’s offer of $2 million was rejected, thus the court case, and he does not know when his case will conclude. My estimate from the way things go is that these types of cases hardly conclude before ten years.
One of the saddest episodes of life’s cruelty in this country was the 65-year-old watchman who was killed by burglars at Stella Maris Primary School on Woolford Avenue. He was the only provider for his wife who is blind and has no legs. Could normal humans understand what this lady has gone through? There is a case outside of the pump station on Public Road, Kitty, at the junction with Vlissengen Road. The incident took place right outside the head office of the women’s arm of the PNC. A mini-bus stopped on the pedestrian crossing to let a mother and her two small children cross over the road. Another mini-bus ignored the flashing hazard lights of the mini-bus that stopped, went through and killed the mother and one of the children. One wonders if the surviving child could ever be a normal adult.
Living in this country you thank your lucky stars that you are mentally alive because of; the way people drive, the blunt refusal of employers to compensate their injured employees, the ubiquity of insane, homeless persons running wild with blunt instruments in their hands, the reckless way at times the police open fire on fleeing suspects.
Michael Jordan (KN, Jan. 24, 2010) wrote about the story of a woman in this country whose mother, father and one son were murdered on separate occasions. Guyana is an ocean of tears.
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