Woman who claimed drugs were for a project, fined $9K after guilty plea

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By Latrishka Thomas

The trial involving, a married couple charged with drug related offences was cut short by an admission of guilt by one of the defendants in the St John’s Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

Thirty-seven-year-old Lois Santana and her husband 36-year-old Robert Santana, were charged in August with the possession of 123 grams of cannabis worth $1,230 and the cultivation of 76 cannabis plants valued at $988, totaling $2,218.

Later that month, they pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against them, and claimed that the drugs were a part of a project.

On Saturday, the two accused were set to stand trial before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh, but Lois changed her plea causing her to be sentenced to pay a fine of $9,000.

But this was not before the court heard testimony from the officer who led the search into the couple’s Hatton home.

He stated that he and other officers went to the home in the early hours of August 16 with a search warrant and upon entering the home, found a bushy substance resembling cannabis on a table.

The court also heard that later in the search, plants were discovered in the yard.

The law enforcement official further stated that when Robert was asked about the substance he stated that they were for his wife’s project and Lois admitted the same.

Defense lawyer Lawrence Daniels then cross-examined the witness, seeking to prove that the drugs found were indeed a part of a project Lois was conducting to “determine to purity of the plant”.

But the Chief Magistrate stated that that defense would only suffice if there is proof that Lois had been authorised by the government to conduct the experiment.

With that being said, the trial came to an end and the charges were again read to the husband and wife.

This time, Lois pleaded guilty, but Robert maintained that he is innocent.

The prosecution accepted the pleas of the defendants, thus withdrawing the charge against the husband.

Daniels then sought to mitigate on his client’s behalf. He lobbied for a fine to be imposed saying that his client “fell foul of the law” because she ought to have gotten the requisite licence.

Lois was then slapped with a fine of $3,000 for possession of the cannabis and another $6,000 dollars for cultivation of the plants.

The woman would have to spend three months behind bars if she fails to pay the $3,000 fine and a year of default jail time for the $6,000 fine which must be paid by March 31,2021.

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