A former national cricket player was jailed for 14 years for importing $5 million-plus of heroin and ecstasy – the largest seizure in Bermuda's history.
Garrick Chris Williams, 31, hid more than 20,000 ecstasy tablets and almost a kilo of heroin in a suitcase he brought in through the airport.
At his sentencing hearing yesterday, Senior Crown counsel Paula Tyndale warned that ecstasy was increasingly becoming the drug of choice in Bermuda.
And, in a week in which the Police played down media reports of the problem the drug poses, Puisne Judge Charles Etta Simmons said more and more such importation cases were coming before the courts.
"If there's an increasing amount of ecstasy coming in to Bermuda it's reasonable to conclude there's going to be increasing usage," she said.
Meting out the lengthy sentence to Williams, she added: "I believe that statistics will show, unfortunately, that the use is increasing and I believe studies have shown throughout the world that starting with soft drug leads to use of a hard drug with spiralling effects as per anti-social behaviour."
Opening the sentencing hearing, Ms Tyndale told Supreme Court that Williams, of Green Acres, Devonshire, arrived in Bermuda on a flight from Gatwick, England, on the evening of May 16 last year.
A sniffer dog alerted officials to his baggage and six packages were found under a layer of plastic at the bottom of the case. Four contained a total of 20,165 ecstasy tablets, worth $1,411,550. The others contained 994 grams of heroin with a street value of $3,813,440, bringing the total value of the haul to $5,224,990.
Williams, a divorced father-of-three, pleaded guilty to two charges of importing controlled drugs at a previous court appearance.
Ms Tyndale said heroin was a drug that was particularly ruinous, with far-reaching consequences of addiction.
Of ecstasy, she said it was "increasingly becoming the new drug of choice, with the phenomenon of social usage becoming increasingly prevalent in Bermuda."
She told the court the Williams case represented the largest ever seizure of both heroin and ecstasy "in recent history" – confirming after the hearing that it was the largest-ever seizure in respect of each drug separately too.
Mrs. Justice Simmons said a pre-sentence report indicated Williams took five to six ecstasy tablets at a time as one was not enough – and defence lawyer Charles Richardson acknowledged his client's life had been ruined by drugs.
"This is a case where drugs and the financial gain attached to drugs has robbed this community of a special young man. When not caught in the maelstrom of drugs he is an excellent cricketer who's represented this country at a national level, and were it not for the scourge of drugs probably would have continued to do so," he said of the former under-21 team player.
Referring to "unsubstantiated comments" in the media about ecstasy being the new drug of choice in Bermuda, Mr. Richardson pointed out remarks which followed from the Police saying there was no evidence of this.
Mrs. Justice Simmons responded: "I think our society will come to accept the part that ecstasy plays in our drug use," noting there had been "more and more of these cases come before the courts".
Around five years ago, said the judge, Bermuda didn't see any, but in the last two years there had been several, with at least two this year.
She continued: "I think it's an alarm bell being sounded because it's a popular drug among young people on the club scene outside Bermuda and there's no reason for us to believe that we are protected."
Williams cried as he apologised to the court and his family. He said he had tried to be a productive citizen but had given in to temptation due to "financial woes".
Noting reports that he had started using marijuana at 15 and cocaine and heroin at 17, Mrs. Justice Simmons said the damage drugs did to impressionable young people had to be emphasised.
"What the court is beginning to see is younger people. We have seen reports of people before this court who have experimented as young as their eleventh year, so the very fabric of our society is at risk," she warned.
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