A United States man was fined $4,000 after he was caught travelling through the TB Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island with 30.5 grams of cannabis on Wednesday.
Forty-one-year-old Travis Sargillo, who was on a 10-day visit to the territory with his wife and friends, claimed the drugs were to treat his anxiety.
Prosecutors argued in court that the visitor not only ‘neglected to declare the drugs’ to local border officials, he also failed to produce any medical documents supporting his claim. As such, he was charged with ‘possession of a controlled drug’ and ‘untrue declaration’.
He pleaded guilty to both offences when he appeared before Magistrate Giselle Jackman-Lumy on Thursday.
He was fined $2,000 for possession of a controlled drug. The funds are to be paid on Friday (today) or, in default, he will spend 30 days at Her Majesty’s Prison.
Sargillo was slapped with another $2,000 for the untrue declaration charge; also to be paid on Friday. If he fails to pay, he will spend two weeks at the adult penitentiary.
Notably, the visiting offender was not charged with importation of drugs.
“I sincerely apologize … I didn’t mean any disrespect,” Sargillo told the court.
Mitigating factors outweigh aggravating ones, says court
Before he was fined, his attorney Patrick Thompson beseeched the court to consider a fine as opposed to a custodial sentence on his client. Thompson also produced a document from Sargillo’s doctor corroborating his claim and argued that his client was of generally good standing and had two character witnesses who sent letters vouching for him.
The court said it considered the seriousness of the offence and the need for deterrence as aggravating factors in the case.
On the other hand, his early guilty plea, his no antecedents, his remorse, and good character were mitigating factors that went in his favour.
The magistrate said the mitigating factors ‘far outweighed’ the aggravating factors so there was no need for a custodial sentence.
The court heard that on the day in question, Sargillo came into the territory on a private Delta jet along with his wife and friends.
While going through Customs, his luggage was searched and a black box containing three vacuum-sealed plastic bags containing cannabis was found.
“I have it for medical purposes for my anxiety,” he reportedly said when questioned about the illegal find.
He told the authorities that he had left the critical doctor prescription at his home.
He was subsequently arrested and charged.
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