Teen handed conditional discharge

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A Paget teenager who admitted possessing cannabis and cannabis resin was yesterday given a second chance by a judge.

Rory Stevens-Astwood, who admitted having more than 15 grams of cannabis and 0.51g of cannabis resin on January 1 at an earlier Magistrates’ Court appearance, was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

The 18-year-old was also ordered to participate in a recognised treatment programme to cut his cannabis use.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said: “I just hope that you will make your parents proud and, most importantly, yourself.”

He added that the sentence was appropriate in light of Stevens-Astwood’s early guilty plea, genuine remorse and his promising education prospects.

At a Magistrates’ Court appearance on August 2, Stevens-Astwood admitted having the drugs in St George’s.

The court heard that Stevens-Astwood was in a car pulled over in a traffic stop on Kindley Field Road and searched when officers smelled cannabis.

A police sniffer dog alerted officers to the waistband of Stevens-Astwood’s pants and they found two lots of plant material, weighing 14.39 grams and 0.94g, along with the cannabis resin.

A Social Inquiry Report was ordered and sentencing was adjourned.

Prosecutor Alan Richards said yesterday that a conviction would be in the public’s interest, but defence counsel Simone Smith-Bean requested a conditional discharge.

She said a conviction would cause “much hardship” and added that “many young men in this country find themselves in this predicament”.

Ms Smith-Bean said “marijuana is a part of people’s life on a daily basis” in Bermuda and that it was a “cultural issue” that could not be looked at in a vacuum.

She added that a court appearance was a wake-up call for her client and that conditions such as taking part in a treatment programme could be attached to the conditional discharge.

Ms Smith-Bean said this would “put the onus” on Stevens-Astwood and allow him to “return to school, get focused and move on with his life”.

Pointing to the Social Inquiry Report and recommendation from the Department of Workforce Development, Mr Wolffe questioned why Stevens-Astwood would “jeopardise his future by having all this cannabis”.

Stevens-Astwood told the court: “What I did was a mistake. I didn’t think about the consequences. I was just moving with the hype.”

He apologised and said he only used cannabis on “special occasions”.

After hearing from Stevens-Astwood’s parents, Mr Wolffe said there were elements that brought a conditional discharge back into focus even though it would not ordinarily be appropriate because of the potential to send the wrong message.

But he also warned Stevens-Astwood that if he does not comply with the conditions, he could still be convicted and sentenced.

Mr Wolffe added that the case would be revisited in July next year when Stevens-Astwood would have to produce proof that he had taken part in a treatment programme.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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