Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:59 AM
May 05, 2017 News
…as CCJ upholds Court of Appeal decision
The Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ) yesterday upheld a decision by the Court of Appeal for the conviction of trafficking in narcotics dating back to some 10 years ago.
The matter was filed by the attorneys of convicted drug trafficker, Vishnu Bridgelall. The lawyers Bernard De Santos, S.C and Sanjeev Datadin had applied to the CCJ to set aside Brigdelall’s conviction and jail sentence which was upheld by the Appellate Court.
However, during a video conference at the Appellate Court in Kingston yesterday, the CCJ announced that decision of the Court of Appeal Judges, Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, B.S Roy and Former Chancellor (Ag), Carl Singh, in regards to Bridgelall conviction was instead upheld.
Bridgelall, a fish exporter from the East Coast Demerara, was found guilty of possession of over 20 kilograms of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. The incident took place on May 16, 2007.
He was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison by Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs, who also fined him $254.4M which represented the value of the cocaine allegedly found in fish glue. The Appellate Court upheld the magistrate’s decision.
But according to information received by this newspaper, despite the CCJ’s decision, the convict will not serve the jail time; he is only mandated to pay the fine which was imposed on him by the Summary Court.
When the businessman was jailed for the 2007 crime, an appeal filed in the High Court had resulted in an overturn of the conviction and sentence.
A subsequent appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal by the State on behalf of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU). Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) Sonia Joseph and Dion Mc Cammon are on record for the State in the matter.
Ranks of the CANU had carried out a raid at Charlotte Street Enterprise, East Coast Demerara on May 16, 2007, and unearthed 20 kilograms of cocaine.
Vishnu Bridgelall, called “Haffa, a fish exporter was said to be a tenant of the property at the said time.
The businessman was present along with three other men including Chandrika Chatergoon at the time the drugs were unearthed.
Bridgelall, a fish exporter and the men, Chattergoon, called Percy; Thakoor Persaud and Azad Khan were charged for the drugs which were said to be contained in fish glue.
But the court found that the magistrate erred in finding the accused guilty of possession.
There was another charge of having 86.5 kilogrammes of cocaine, for the purpose of trafficking.
Bridgelall who normally buys and sells fish glue for export had in a statement said he heard that a man at Enterprise had some glue to sell so he hired Thakoor and Khan and they went to Enterprise.
He had explained “We arrived there about 11.30 a.m. We met the fella who selling the glue. His name is Percy.
“As we were discussing price in the yard, I see two minibuses pull up and some men jump out and said that they are CANU officers and Percy asked me to open the gate for them. They said to us they come to look for drugs and I said I don’t know anything about any drugs. I told the officer I only just come a few minutes ago to buy glue.”
After allegedly finding cocaine in the glue, the officer charged Bridgelall, Chandrika Chattergoon c/d Percy, Thakoor Persaud and Azad Khan with having cocaine in their possession.
The Magistrate dismissed the charge against Persaud and Khan but found Bridgelall and Chattergoon guilty.
Bridgelall was fined $48M on one charge and $206.4 M plus five years on each charge, with an order that the sentences should run consecutively.
During a full court hearing, Chief Justice Ian Chang, S.C. and Justice Rishi Persaud agreed that the magistrate erred in finding that Bridgelall was in possession of cocaine. Bridgelall’s conviction and sentences were therefore set aside and he was awarded costs in the sum of $2,000.
Mr. Bernard DeSantos had argued the appeal on behalf of Bridgelall.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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