By Latrishka Thomas
Two former police officers convicted of corruption have been given both custodial and pecuniary sentences for holding a farmer at gunpoint and taking illegal drugs from him for their personal gain almost five years ago.
Corporal Marcus Isadore, who was 43 years old at the time, was charged with omitting to perform his duty and obtaining eight pounds of cannabis for the benefit of himself or another in February 2017.
Both Isadore and Constable Peter Lugay, who was 23 at the time, were jointly charged with obtaining 29 pounds of cannabis from the same farmer later that month.
Lugay is also said to have used his police weapon in an effort to obtain the drugs, which reportedly have not been accounted for and were never turned over as evidence.
They were found guilty of all of the counts on the indictment by Justice Ann-Marie Smith in March this year.
Yesterday, they were called back to court for their sentencing hearing which began with remarks from Isadore’s lawyer, Andrew O’Kola.
O’Kola argued that the sentences should take into account the “unreasonable delay” since the matter arose years ago.
He also advanced that “even a convicted person has a fundamental right to dignity, and the conditions of the prison breaches that right”.
The prosecution’s rebuttal included the fact that Covid-19 and the absence of the defence contributed to some of the adjournments.
They also said that the defence failed to expound on the conditions of the prison they referred to.
After those pre-sentencing remarks, the prosecution called the victim, Noel Johnson, to the stand to ascertain how the incident has affected him.
He said that not only has he never gotten back his room key and power bank which they took, but the blows Lugay gave him with his gun have left him in pain.
“Since I get the blow on my back it has not stopped affecting me. Sometimes I can’t even bend to lift up heavy things. When I sit down for a long time and then to get up is pain I feeling,” he shared.
He went on to disclose that the injury has forced him to abandon his crops.
Johnson told the court that he was never able to afford treatment and instead “used tings and sap my back”.
The judge then considered several important factors, including the glowing character references both convicts had received.
However, she said working against them was the fact that the cannabis was taken in a public place; the idea that the police are to protect and serve; that they tried to prevent the victim from reporting the matter by offering him money; that one of the incidents was planned; and that they tried to get a police vehicle to commit the offence.
The only mitigating factors were that they are first time offenders and that Lugay was 23 years old at the time of the incident and is now the father of a two-month-old baby.
With all of the aforementioned factors being taken into account, the judge sentenced Isadore to five months’ imprisonment.
He was also fined $80,000 which he has to pay by December 31 2023, or spend two years in prison.
He was also ordered to give the victim $100 immediately for the charger he took from him, or face two months in jail.
Lugay, on the other hand, was sent to jail for two months and fined $30,000 which he must also pay by the end of 2023 or face two years behind bars.
In addition, Lugay has to compensate the victim $3,500 for the injuries he sustained when he struck him several times in his back with a firearm.
He has until the end of July to honour that order or he will be imprisoned for six months.
The time the men already spent behind bars, a little over a month, will be taken into consideration.
Justice Smith concluded the sentencing by saying “the court wants to send a message to all police officers who feel they can disrespect citizens of this country and get away with it. The fact that he was cultivating marijuana is of no moment [consequence]”.
She then asked both men to stand and apologise to the victim.