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Magistrate to rule on bail for trio

Describing the drug case involving a policeman, his brother and a businessman as “exceptionally serious”, a magistrate today said he needed more time to consider whether he should grant the trio bail.

While Acting Magistrate Alliston Seale deliberates, Special Constable Jimmy Thorne, his younger brother Jamal Andre Thorne, and Ross Ryan Ashton, will be behind bars on remand at Dodds until next week.

Ross Ryan Ashton

Ross Ryan Ashton

The three, facing a total of 11 charges, appeared in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court this morning amidst a heavy police presence.

They arrived and departed with one officer from the Task Force walking ahead of them, three uniformed policemen behind, and other officers in the courtyard keeping onlookers at a distance.

The 37-year-old police officer, who resides at Coach Hill, St John and his  32-year-old sibling, a carpenter from Cherry Grove, St John are jointly charged with possession, possession with intent to supply, and trafficking 10 pounds of cannabis on January 25 in St Michael.

The younger brother faces three similar counts separately, arising out of the discovery of drugs at his home. He will appear at the District “C” Magistrates’ Court on February 2.

Special Constable Jimmy Thorne, and his younger brother Jamal Andre Thorne.

Special Constable Jimmy Thorne, and his younger brother Jamal Andre Thorne.

The officer is also separately charged with having cannabis in Christ Church. He will plead to that charge at the Oistins Magistrates’ Court on February 4.

Meantime, Ashton, of Block 4D Rosemont, Deacons Road, St Michael, is facing one charge of committing acts preparatory for the purpose of trafficking marijuana.

The charges stem from police intercepting a car on Bay Street, St Michael, in which the Thorne brothers were travelling. A search of the trunk uncovered illegal drugs.

The special constable was also searched and a small amount of cannabis allegedly found on him.

Prosecutor Inspector Trevor Blackman asked the court not to grant bail to the accused, arguing that if released, they would not turn up for court and there was some likelihood of them interfering with witnesses and of “similar offences being committed”.

Blackman also spoke to the nature and seriousness of the charges and the length of the sentence which could be imposed if they were found guilty – a fine of up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.

“Accused Jimmy Thorne is a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force – an individual who has been placed in a position of trust by the people of this country in relation to his employment,” he noted, adding that because Thorne was an officer of the law, it would be “of significant public concern”.

At this point the magistrate intervened and queried whether the officer should be treated differently because the public expected better of him.

In objecting to bail for Ashton, Blackman pointed out that he had two previous drug-related convictions and Thorne’s association with him could be deemed “criminal association”.

In her response, defence attorney Angella Mitchell-Gittens pointed out that her client’s two convictions dated back to 2003 and 2007, and should not now “suddenly form the basis for objection to bail in 2015”.

She also argued that the prosecution had to give evidence to support the view that an accused would not show up for court, and such an objection could not be based on the fact that “Inspector Blackman says so”.

The court, Mitchell-Gittens said, should not “be moved by the baseless fears of the prosecutor”.

The attorney-at-law also contended that it was “reckless” to intimate that any of the accused men would interfere with witnesses, particularly in this instance where the witnesses were police and analysts.

She also felt that the quantity of marijuana was not so large that a person should be denied bail.

After listening to both sides, Magistrate Seale said that although he did not intend to be swayed by the media or public opinion, he needed to consider the submissions made by both the prosecutor and defence counsel.

Source: Sandra Downes

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