A young mother of four who told the court she decided to traffic a quantity of marijuana to provide for her four children, has been granted bail by the High Court pending an appeal.
Thirty-five-year-old Anitha Qullis of 1856 New Amsterdam Berbice, was jailed by Magistrate Crystal Lambert in the Bartica Magistrate’s Court following a probation report.
During her first court appearance on September 22, 2020, she had pleaded guilty with explanation to the charge, which stated that on September 19, 2020, at Karrau Village Essequibo River, she had in her possession 503 grams of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
The woman, in her explanation, stated, “I accepted the weed. I am a mother of four, and my children father left for the interior, and I never heard from him again. I decided to try a thing to provide for my children.”
She was then sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and fined $754,5000. Following the sentencing by Magistrate Lambert, Qullis’s Attorney Siand Dhurjon moved to the High Court, appealing the sentence.
Dhurjon, in his grounds for the mother of four to be released, stated that his client was never fortunate enough to have opportunities in life to advance herself. He added that Qualis could not complete primary school because she had to tend to her sick father.
This was also compounded, he said, with the fact that she was raped by a close family member at the age of 11 and got her first child at 15.
As a result, he noted that she sought refuge in an abusive relationship that saw her producing three years in five years and was left penniless by her children’s father earlier this year.
Although the legislation provides that the offence committed by Qualis warrants a period of imprisonment of at least three years. Magistrate Lambert agreed with Qualis’ attorney Dhurjon that there were sufficient and exceptional special reasons to go below the mandatory minimum provided for in the Narcotics Act.
However, the learned Magistrate disagreed with Dhurjon’s submissions that Qualis should be given a short sentence of imprisonment.
Magistrate Lambert took the attorney’s submissions into consideration and handed down the 2-year jail term. Additionally, Dhurjon applied for the suspension of the sentence under the Criminal Law Reform Act, Cap 11:05, which would have meant that Qualis would be released, and if she reoffends, then she would be reincarcerated.
However, the Magistrate refused because she stated that she “did not see reason enough for the suspension of her sentence.”
As a consequence, Dhurjon is contending that “the refusal of the learned magistrate to suspend Qualis’ sentence goes against recent precedents and practices in the summary courts as Qualis is a first-time offender of a nonviolent crime faced with such exceptional circumstances.”
He further argued that the sentence imposed on the mother of four is excessive, inordinate, and unduly severe and fails to consider the mitigating circumstances.
Despite the preceding, Justice Navindra Singh, after listening to the case, granted the woman bail in the sum of $50,000.