By Mamadou Dem
Magistrate Abdoulie Fatty of the lower court in Banjul on Monday, 4 January, 2016 imposed a mandatory jail term and a fine of one million dalasis on one Alhagie Kakay and Dodou Jabang in default to serve two years imprisonment.
Delivering the judgement, the trial Magistrate sated that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses 2, 3, 4 and 5 are very material to this case because they were the officers who were present when the accused persons were arrested. “I believe that the prosecution has adduced strong and compelling evidence to convince the court that on the day in question, the accused persons were busy packaging small wraps of heroin with an intention to supply them in the drug underworld. The manner in which the accused persons wrapped heroin in small pieces of white paper is plainly consistent with drug paraphernalia”.
Moreover, “I have no reason to doubt the prosecution’s account that when asked about the heroin, the first accused admitted ownership and that the second accused had a history of helping him preparing the wraps,” said the Magistrate. He added that the fact that the second accused was present at the first accused house reinforces the prosecution’s case that the two individuals were packaging a prohibited drug with the sole aim of committing an illegal enterprise.
The testimonies of all prosecution witnesses are believable, in particular witnesses 4 and 5, whose evidence is crucial to this case because they were the officers at the window who subsequently recovered the heroin. I find their evidence against the accused as direct, consistent, compelling and mutually corroborative and their respective testimonies have neither been contradictory nor contradicted by the defendants. Even the accused persons, to a large degree, corroborated the account of the prosecution witnesses 2, 3, 4 and 5. Both accused persons admitted that PW4 and PW5 were at the window behind the house. They offered nothing to taint the accounts of the prosecution witnesses apart from denying knowledge of the source of the heroin.
He added. “Eighty three wraps of heroin in white paper were found by the officers. I cannot think of anything of logic to dispel the obvious conclusion that the large number of wraps as well as the fact that they were packaged into small chunks and individually wrapped in white paper, means that these wraps of heroin were intended for the drug market.”
According to Magistrate Fatty, the drug laws of this country are very strict, and once conviction is reached, very minimal discretion is given to the court. He noted. “This is a case in which Parliament has prescribed a minimum mandatory sentence and as such, there is very little I can do as my hands are tied. I have no choice but to enforce the wishes of the Legislature”.
“The court has taken into account the seriousness, consequences and prevalence of drug trafficking having regard to the fact that heroin is an extremely toxic and addictive drug. It is a menace to society in general and our youth in particular,” he expounded.
For count one each convict was sentenced to a mandatory term of ten years imprisonment and in addition to a fine of one million Dalasis in default to serve two years imprisonment.
For count two, each convict is hereby sentenced to a mandatory jail term of ten years imprisonment and in addition to a fine of one million Dalasis in default to serve two years imprisonment.
The Court ruled, “Both sentences are to run concurrently. The sentences imposed shall be with hard labour having regard to the exceptional seriousness of the impact that heroin addiction will have in impoverished nations like ours”
The duo was jointly charged with two counts i.e. conspiracy to commit an offence and Possession of prohibited drugs for the purpose of drug trafficking contrary to the laws of the Gambia.