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A 45-year-old marijuana trafficker was sentenced yesterday to 16 years in prison. Samuel Ramesar, a scrap iron dealer of Centenary Street, Tunapuna stood silently in the prisoner enclosure of the Port-of-Spain First Court as the sentence was passed by Justice Devan Rampersad. In passing sentence, Rampersad said he considered the seriousness of the offence as well as the fact that he (Ramesar) was charged with cocaine trafficking while he was on bail for marijuana trafficking.
He also acknowledged that Ramesar’s criminal tracing revealed he had served nine years in prison for robbery with violence and for defrauding a man of $86,500. Ramesar pleaded guilty to the cocaine charge in November 2012 and was slapped with a $15,000 fine. It took a nine-member jury before Rampersad almost three hours to come to a unanimous verdict for Ramesar, when he was convicted in July last year on the marijuana charge.
During his brief trial, the State led evidence that on December 20, 2002, Ramesar was driving with another man near the Uriah Butler Highway and Bamboo No 1, Valsayn, when they were stopped by police. While searching the car, police found a black garbage bag under Ramesar’s seat. The bag contained three plastic packages of marijuana. The drugs valued at over $300,000 weighed a total of 3.5 kilos.
In presenting a mitigation plea for Ramesar, his attorney Peter Carter said the court had to impose lengthy custodial sentence for his client. However, he suggested the sentence be 13 years imprisonment. Carter claimed his client only earned a “modest” income from collecting scrap iron and engaged in trafficking drugs to supplement his income to support his common-law wife and five children.
He also suggested that the quantity of drugs found on his client was substantially less than in similar cases where accused people were sentenced to between 14 and 16 years in prison. In response, State prosecutors Brent Winter and Ravita Persad raised Ramesar’s criminal record as the main aggravating factor Rampersad should consider in passing sentence.