A Purcell Estate man has spent more than two years in prison awaiting trial for a gun charge after his bail was revoked following his 2017 arrest for 17 grams of marijuana, his lawyer said this week in Magistrates’ Court.
On Monday, he was remanded back to prison to continue the wait.
In June 2017, Selroy Hanley was charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger human life — a matter that is currently being adjudicated by the High Court, according to his attorney, David A. Penn.
He subsequently got bail, and was out of prison the next month when police searched his residence and found three bags containing marijuana.
After that discovery, he was charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply, said Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste DaBreo.
Because he had been on bail at the time of this arrest, he was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison.
During Monday’s hearing, Ms. Baptiste DaBreo agreed with a request from Mr. Penn to replace the charge with possession of a controlled drug.
Mr. Hanley pleaded guilty to the new charge, but the magistrate said sentencing him was complicated by his previous legal matters.
“I’m just wondering how to proceed in this circumstance,”Ms. Baptiste DaBreo added.
Given that the sentencing guidelines determine that possession of a controlled drug does not warrant a custodial sentence, Mr. Penn requested that the magistrate offer his client bail.
If Mr. Hanley is remanded back to prison but found not guilty of the gun charge, Mr. Penn argued, then he would have spent time behind bars that he does not deserve.
“That cannot be compensated for,” the attorney added.
Mr. Penn also mentioned that his client, a 33-year-old who works odd jobs like cutting bushes and hanging sheet rock, aspires to become more involved in his father’s fishing business.
Ultimately, however, the magistrate declined Mr. Penn’s request and denied bail, citing Mr. Hanley’s “propensity to commit offences while on bail.”
Crown Counsel Tamara Foster recommended that because Mr. Hanley was remanded for an entirely separate matter, the magistrate should impose a sentence based purely on the facts of the possession case.
Ms. Batiste DaBreo agreed.
“In relation to this matter, I believe the proper procedure would be to impose the sentence laid out in sentencing guidelines and let the chips fall where they may in regards to … the other matters,” the magistrate said.
Following the sentencing guidelines, Ms. Baptiste DaBreo started with a baseline fine of $3,000, but reduced it to $2,000 after considering mitigating factors including Mr. Hanley’s guilty plea.
Mr. Hanley will have six months after his remand ends to pay the fine, and will serve four months in prison if he does not, the magistrate said.