J. A. Clyde-Smith, Esq., Commissioner and Jurats Kerley, Marett-Crosby, Nicolle, Crill, Milner and Blampied.
The Attorney General
Sentencing by the Superior Number of the Royal Court, to which the accused was remanded by the Inferior Number on 20th December, 2013, following a guilty plea to the following charge:
1 count of:
Being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug, contrary to Article 61(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise (Jersey) Law 1999 (Count 1).
Details of Offence:
This 17 year-old defendant imported approximately 35 ½ grams of high grade (57%) cocaine, concealed internally, when he arrived on a flight from Liverpool; he was accompanied by a 23 year-old male friend. When stopped by Customs Officers they said they had come to the Island to attend a relative's engagement party. The defendant stated he had nothing to declare but a search of his baggage revealed evidence of drug abuse. He was detained for x-ray and some time after the procedure was explained to him the defendant disclosed he was carrying a package internally which he had "plugged" (inserted anally). Initially stated drugs were for personal use, eventually conceded he had undertaken the importation for a sum he would not disclose. Stated he had received £85 in cash to pay for flight.
Details of Mitigation:
Guilty plea; youth; previous good character. Single, unemployed, sparse employment since leaving school, living with and supported by parents. During preparation of reports claimed he had a drugs debt of £200 which had been inflated to £600 and that the importation was to clear the debt and receive an undisclosed payment. Drugs had a street value between £4,260:00 as a 'premium' product and approximately £11,360:00 if 'cut' to a typical street purity of 15 per cent.
Starting point 9 years' youth detention. 4½ years' youth detention.
Confiscation Order sought in the nominal sum of £1.
Forfeiture and destruction of the drugs sought.
Sentence and Observations of Court:
Starting point 8 years' youth detention. 3 years' youth detention.
Confiscation Order made in the nominal sum of £1.
Forfeiture and destruction of the drugs ordered.
Ms E. L. Hollywood, Crown Advocate.
Advocate J. M. Grace for the Defendant.
1. The defendant stands to be sentenced for importing 35.54 grams of cocaine into the Island concealed internally. The cocaine had an above average purity of 57% by weight of cocaine, and that quantity of cocaine has a street value of between £4,260 if sold as a premium product or up to £11,360 if diluted to an average of 15%.
2. The defendant is single, was unemployed and living with his family, in his family home, in Liverpool supported financially by his parents at the time of this offending. He has been assessed at a moderate risk of reoffending.
3. The Rimmer Lusk and Bade v AG  JLR 373 guidelines for this quantity of cocaine falls within the second band of between 20 and 50 grams where the range of starting point is set at 8-10 years imprisonment. The Crown seek a starting point of 9 years and allowing for mitigation a sentence of 4½ years' youth detention.
4. Being 17 the defendant comes within the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Young Offenders)(Jersey) Law 1994 Article 4(2) of which provides:-
"A court shall not pass a sentence of youth detention unless it considers that no other method of dealing with the person is appropriate because it appears to the court that -
(a) the person has a history of failure to respond to non-custodial penalties and is unable or unwilling to respond to them;
(b) only a custodial sentence would be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from the person; or
(c) the offence or the totality of the offending is so serious that a non-custodial sentence cannot be justified."
The Crown submit that this offence is too serious to justify a non-custodial sentence.
5. The defendant will appreciate, as must his family who are here in the Court supporting him, that the Court of Appeal have laid down very firm guidelines as to the sentences to be imposed in the cases of the importation of Class A drugs on a commercial basis. It is worth reiterating what the Court of Appeal said in the case of Campbell Molloy and Mackenzie-v-AG  JLR 136 at page 114:-
"We have no doubt that the courts should indeed play their part in suppressing the evil of drug trafficking which has the capacity to wreak havoc in the lives of individual abusers and their families. Lord Lane, C.J. in R v Aramah (7) referred in the context of Class A drugs to the "degradation and suffering and not infrequently the death which the drug brings to the addict." Sadly the lives which are blighted by the abuse of drugs are usually young lives. We agree that circumstances have changed since this court issued its guidelines in Clarkin in 1991. The courts cannot by themselves provide a solution to the problem but they can play their part by adopting a sentencing policy which marks the gravity of the crime. We desire therefore to make absolutely clear what is the policy of the courts in this jurisdiction in relation to the sentencing of offenders who import or deal in drugs on a commercial basis. That policy is that offenders will receive condign punishment to mark the peculiarly heinous and antisocial nature of the crime of drug trafficking."
6. We agree therefore with the Crown that pursuant to the terms of the Young Offenders Law this offence is too serious to justify a non-custodial sentence, but we are going to reduce the sentence sought by the crown for the following reasons:-
(i) Firstly we agree that the role of the defendant was such that 8 years is the appropriate starting point.
(ii) Secondly we think the mitigation available to the defendant is outstanding in that he has pleaded guilty; he was cooperative with the police; he is a young man, he is only 17, of good character (he has no previous convictions) and he comes to the Court not only with excellent references but with the support of his family who are clearly deeply distressed by the predicament that he is in.
Taking all of this mitigation into account but in particular his youth and good character we are going to impose a sentence of 3 years' youth detention.
7. You are sentenced to 3 years' youth detention and we need to inform you that you may be subject to supervision on your release.
8. We also order the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs.
Criminal Justice (Young Offenders)(Jersey) Law 1994.