(CMR) Former Department of Immigration clerical workers Stephen Wayne Hurlston (28) and Oscar Lee Watler (34) were sentenced to twelve and a half years for possession of cocaine with intent to supply earlier today.
This sentence was handed down by Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn after a five-day period of consideration on the matter. Last week, Mr. John Furness, representing Watler pleaded for leniency from the court. During his submissions, he referred to two as
“not hardened drug dealers, but simply “incompetent amateurs” and “nothing but bumbling drug dealers,”
He also stated that Walter had worked for immigration for some 17 years and his colleagues spoke very highly of him. He shared with the court that the defendant also suffers from poor health including being a kidney transplant recipient, having eye issues, and needing a hearing aid.
Attorney, Steve McField, who represented Hurlston pleaded that his client had a “great life” with no criminal record and has a young infant.
The duo were originally arrested in October 2015 in an empty lot in Patrick's Island after a uniform officer spotted the men by a white car acting suspiciously. The officer recovered multiple packages of cocaine in and around the car as well as a scale and a razor blade. The largest package weighed 1.61 pounds.
They claimed to have gone there to fish for lobster and had nothing to do with the drugs but had seen some scales and small plastic bags on the ground, which they had picked up. They denied that there were any drugs in the car and said it was the police officer who had found the actual packages of cocaine.
During the trial the men had both denied the charges, implying that the drugs must have been there before they arrived. They also refuted claims by the police officer that they had admitted finding the drugs on the beach and begged him to give them “a bligh” (let them go) because they could not afford to lose their jobs at immigration.
Defense attorney Richard Barton attempted to demonstrate reasonable doubt by pointing out that neither defendant's DNA was found on the packages and no significant quantity of cash was ever found.
At the time of the guilty verdict in May the judge indicated that her decision hinged on who to believe. The police officer giving testimony or the defendants. She found the officer credible and them guilty of possession of more than 1.61 pounds cocaine with intent to supply. They were also convicted of possession of a utensil used in the preparation of a controlled drug.
This amount would normally net a 15-year jail sentence but Furniss asked that 8-12 year range be considered by the court.
After their May conviction they were released from their government posts. The men have been remanded into custody. Time spent will be taking into consideration.