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"Naive" young cannabis importer spared prison

Tuesday 21 May 2019

"Naive" young cannabis importer spared prison


A young man who helped import more than £20,000 worth of cannabis has been "given another chance" along with a two year suspended sentence and 240 hours community service.

Reinis Vaivars, 20, was 18 at the time of the offences which Guernsey's Royal Court heard were committed as a result of threats of violence from another person,, with Vaivars doing so to "fit in and seem cool".

Five counts of successful importation and one of an attempted importation of a controlled substance into the island using the postal service were treated with "unusual" leniency as a result, when the youth was sentenced on Friday. 

The court heard how the offences took place between 31 December 2016 and 24 February 2017, during which time five packets containing concealed packages were sent and later intercepted, and found to be containing various forms of cannabis. A further package believed to contain the drug was seen being collected by Vaivars on CCTV but was not found during the investigation.

Vaivars eventually pleaded guilty to one count in March 2018 and the rest of the counts in March 2019, meaning he only received a small discount on his potential sentence. However he was praised for his co-operation with the court having informed Guernsey Police of the attempted importation charge for which they had no other evidence other than his statement and the CCTV footage. 

In February, following repeated attempts to collect packages addressed to his home - addressed on four occasions to a pseudonym and on one occasion to himself - the border agency was alerted and an arrest was made on suspicion of importation. The border agency had already intercepted two packages and found them both to contain around 0.5kg of cannabis resin. 

A further three packages of herbal cannabis were also later intercepted addressed to Vaivar's home address containing 21.7g, 20.6g and 34.2g respectively. The contents of the initial unrecovered package which was thought to have been collected on 21 January are unknown. The remaining packages were intercepted between that date and 24 February. 

The total estimated street value for the cannabis resin was between £19,350 - £29,025 although the bulk price was also mentioned in court which would have been around £10,000-£15,000. The herbal cannabis was valued at around £500-£600.

Cannabis resin

Pictured: Cannabis resin (stock photo). 

Upon analysis of the man's mobile phone records at the police station a number of messages were found relating to the tracking number on the packages which were to be signed for on special delivery. 

The court heard that Vaivars did not order the drugs neither did he pay for the drugs but that there were messages on his phone urging him to continue with the criminal activity saying that there would be "something in it" for him. 

The court also heard that on several occasions Vaivars said he knew the packages were "something illegal" but that he did not know what and on another occasion believed cannabis to be "a pollen".

"He provided the passcode to his phone. He said he had not sent for the packages or asked for them but was threatened and was told he would have his house burned down and they would break his legs," the court heard. 

After a period of time on bail Vaivars was taken into custody, three months prior to sentencing.

Defence Advocate Sam Maindonald spoke about the limited involvement her client had in the importation of the cannabis.

"He didn't order them or pay for them, he had no specific knowledge of the type or quality. 

"He did not feel able to refuse or get out of it. He was used by others who took advantage of his naivety, he took all the risk for none of the reward. Young and naive by his own admission, he had only been in Guernsey moving to live with his mother. He struggled to fit in and found it difficult to make friends. 

"He worked every day from 4am as well as at his mother's business and paid his taxes. His intention had been to join the army but his mother felt it would be a safe environment here. It's unfortunate that when he made friends it was with young people who used drugs and he joined in. His age and naivety was exploited," she said. 

It was recommended to the court by Advocate Maindonald that the young man who was an only child of a single parent residing in Guernsey should not be deported upon completion of his sentence. 

After a long deliberation Judge Richard McMahon made reference to the potential for a lengthy sentence as each repeated offence was seen as an aggravating factor as was the misuse of the postal system and the significant quantities involved. 

"You've been extremely stupid and foolish and unless you've taken no interest in local affairs you'll know this court takes drug trafficking offences seriously. 

"We've taken an unusual approach, what you've done is serious but we see no virtue in an immediate custodial sentence. The most appropriate sentence is a suspended one. You're a young man with a promising future ahead of you. We consider that your mother is best placed to keep you out of trouble in the future.

"We want you to become a good member of the community," he said.

He added that the court would not be making a recommendation for  the man's deportation. 

The total sentence for the six counts was two years suspended for three years and 240 hours community service. 


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Posted by Alistair KELMAN on
A humane and fair decision by Judge Richard McMahon ably assisted by Defence Advocate Sam Maindonald. It puts the Guernsey legal system in a very good light in these troubled times.
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