TWO Court of Appeal judges on Tuesday reminded those who choose to commit a crime that there are consequences.
They also will not be allowed to use their children as a shield in an attempt to “tug at the court’s heartstrings to get a lesser penalty, Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke Soo Hon and Gregory Smith said.
They dismissed the appeal of woman who was convicted of trafficking cocaine found hidden in a pair of shoes in her luggage as she was about to board a flight to Jamaica in 2014.
Cursha Eastman had appealed the 28-month sentence she received from an Arima magistrate, saying it was too severe. Through her attorney, Shanice Edwards, she asked for leniency and a variation of her sentence because of her four children, two of whom were born after her conviction.
Edwards also asked for a fine in the alternative.
The judges were not swayed, saying there was no justification for a reduced sentence, since the one Eastman received was “quite reasonable,” as drug-trafficking offences usually attract harsher penalties.
However, they said out of concern for the children, the youngest being three months old, they reduced Eastman’s sentence to 22 months and deducted the two months she spent in prison before accessing bail, bringing it down to 20 months.
But Soo Hon said, “When you risk trying to take illegal drugs out of the country, there is a risk you might be caught and consequences will follow.
“People can’t set out to do wrong and hold their children up as shields. The court cannot endorse that kind of behaviour. This is the consequence of the risk you have taken.
“You must have known what you were getting into.”
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal said she too was sympathetic to the mother, but in the five years between conviction and the appeal, Eastman made certain choices, even with a sentence hanging over her head.
She said if the appeal was allowed, it would send the wrong message that it was okay to conceal hundreds of grammes of cocaine in the way Eastman had.
“This is the message we will be sending to society. This is not a message we want to send.”
When officers of the then Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit stopped her at the airport, Eastman denied the drugs belonged to her.
She said a friend had asked her to take the shoes to Jamaica. The cocaine was found in four plastic bags hidden in the soles of the shoes. It weighed 302.39 grammes.
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