Man, initially remanded over 30lbs ganja bust, now gets bail

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Lawrence Van Lewin and the ganja found in the motorcar

A man from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) who was allegedly busted by Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) ranks with 30 pounds of marijuana and was refused bail by a city Magistrate has been released on $150,000 bail by High Court Judge Brassington Reynolds.

On November 15, 2021, 30-year-old Lawrence Van Lewin appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, where he was jointly charged with two others for trafficking 13 kilogrammes, 680 grammes of marijuana.

CANU ranks intercepted a silver-grey Toyota Sienta motorcar, HC 4153, in the vicinity of Vlissengen Road and Brickdam, Georgetown on November 10, 2021. Three men, including the driver, were in the vehicle at the time.

A search was conducted on the car, and 28 parcels wrapped in transparent plastic containing cannabis leaves, seeds, and stems were found in the back seat and trunk.

The driver and the two other occupants were arrested. The men were told of the offence committed, cautioned, arrested, and escorted to Brickdam Police Station, along with the cannabis and vehicle.

After denying the charge, Lewin, a logger, was refused bail and remanded to prison, while the owner/driver of the car, who pleaded guilty, was remanded to prison pending sentencing. The matter continues on February 9.

Lewin’s lawyer, Bernard Da Silva, through a Fixed Date Application (FDA), sought bail for his client at the Demerara High Court.

Da Silva submitted that his client denies knowledge of any of the bags or their contents. He further submitted that there has been no confession by his client, and that he is “willing, ready, and able” to defend the charge against him.

The lawyer noted that Lewin is not a flight risk, neither is he the holder of a valid passport.

According to counsel, consequent to the driver/owner of the car admitting ownership of the drug, there is a probability that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) may withdraw the charge against his client.

Da Silva argued that at this stage of proceedings, the charge, although serious, is nothing but mere allegations, and there is no moral certainty of a conviction based on the evidence from the CANU.

He said, “There is no evidence that what was allegedly found were indeed narcotics, since there is no evidence from the Prosecutor as to if and when samples were sent. There was no reported field testing done.”

In the absence of any scientific evidence of narcotics, Da Silva argued, the court is asked by the prosecutor to enter into the “world of speculation”. While his client has nothing to prove, the lawyer added that the circumstances of the purported drugs were owned by someone else in court, and this affords his client a strong defence.

In the circumstances, counsel contended that the presumption of bail at this stage should favour his client, since he is entitled to rely on the presumption of innocence.

“There are no guarantees of the likelihood of the readiness, or certainty of the prosecutor to commence trial. It is merely a date to report on the state of investigations and a possible date for disclosure,” the FDA reads.

The conditions of incarceration, coupled with the possible protracted delay of a certain date of commencement of trial, may amount to punishment before conviction, Lewin’s lawyer outlined in the bail application.

INews understands that a State Counsel appeared on behalf of the DPP, who was listed as a respondent in the FDA. The counsel made certain submissions in reply to the FDA. Lewin’s lawyer provided reporters with a copy of his FDA.