Crime — 31 January 2014 — by Roland A. Parks

A resident of Boston, Belize District, pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking and was fined $10,000, when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, on Wednesday.

James Gibson, 49, had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea to guilty today.

Gibson, in his mitigation plea, begged Magistrate Frazer to show leniency. He explained that he is a single father of five children and that he would mortgage his house or sell off a piece of land to raise the money to pay the court fine.

He told the court that in 2013, when he was remanded to prison for the drug trafficking charge (he later got bail), it had a serious impact on his life and tore his family apart.

Gibson said that the day after he was sent to prison, his common-law wife died from cancer and that changed the life of his five children.

One of his daughters ran away and he said he does not know if she is alive or dead. He said that after being imprisoned, he now knows that he would never want to return to jail. All he wants is the chance to get back his life and be there for his children, he said.

Magistrate Frazer explained to him that, under the law, drug trafficking carries both a fine and confinement as penalties. There is, however, a proviso that allows a Magistrate to impose only a fine, if the offender does not have a previous conviction for the same offence.

Magistrate Frazer then stipulated that Gibson must pay his fine by April 30, 2014. If he defaults, he would have to spend three years in prison.

The incident occurred on May 30, 2013, in Boston. Court documents revealed that around 8:30 p.m., on the day of the incident, ASP Chris Noble and Corporal M. Baiza were conducting a mobile patrol on the old Northern Highway when their attention was drawn to three men, one of whom was on a bicycle, while the other two stood beside him.

Corporal Baiza approached them and introduced himself as a police officer. He told the men that he wanted to conduct a search of their persons.

When Baiza searched a blue and black knapsack that James Gibson was holding in his hand, he found a red plastic bag containing a green leafy substance that resembled marijuana.

Gibson was arrested and taken to the Ladyville Police Station, where the suspected marijuana, weighed in his presence, amounted to 580 grams.

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