Black Immigrant Daily News
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is raising alarm over what appears to be the continued practice of detainees smoking ganja inside holding cells at the Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston.
In fact, the chief jurist is arguing that it could lead to serious consequences, such as a fire at the court building.
The smell of marijuana derailed Sykes off course as he continued his summation of evidence in the One Don faction of the Clansman gang trial on Thursday.
A total of 27 alleged gang members, including the purported leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, are on trial for a raft of criminal offences, including murder and arson.
But on Thursday afternoon, Sykes veered off course during his summation, and questioned why the precincts of the Supreme Court is home to what he called the “biggest ganja smoking session in Jamaica”.
Sykes said this should not be so, as the court is a no-smoking zone.
It was not the first time that Sykes has taken issue with the smell of ganja at the Supreme Court.
During the 2019 Uchence Wilson gang trial, which was similarly presided over by Sykes, he warned the police that there would be serious consequences for those law enforcers who are seemingly facilitating prisoners smoking the herb in the holding areas.
“It really needs to stop. So I am going to put the police on notice,” Sykes was quoted as saying then.
“The police aiming to maintain the order in the building means preventing ganja smoking… down there (in the holding area),” he added.
It is a long held secret that the strong scent of the herb is very noticeable on some afternoons at the Supreme Court, and many attendees, ranging from lawyers, judges and litigants, have complained of the persistent issue.
Sykes held nothing back on Thursday, pointing out that the smell of ganja had stopped, but it has now returned.
He asked how the marijuana could have been lit, as flint stones could not have been used to do it.
This, suggested Sykes, could mean that the detainees have access to some form of flame, and if that is proven, then it could cause serious consequences like arsonists setting fire to the Supreme Court building.
Further, he is questioning what would happen in a scenario where the holding area caught fire.
He again warned that the practice has to stop, given those possibilities.
Sykes noted, too, the health of several users of the courts, especially those who suffer from respiratory illnesses.
Under the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment Act) 2015, smoking ganja in a public place or within five metres of a public place is prohibited.
Sykes is not the only judge to have complained about smoking at the Supreme Court.
In 2015 during a court hearing, then High Court Judge, Justice Lennox Campbell (now retired), expressed sheer frustration relative to prisoners in custody at the court breaching the law by continuing to smoke ganja.
He expressed surprise at how frequent the smell of the herb was throughout the precincts of the court, and how strong the odour was there, even being detected inside the courtrooms.