THURSDAY, MAY 3: A tourist from New York was today fined $4,000 for bringing in 26 grams of drugs and a pipe.
Robert Gimach, 43, pleaded guilty to possession of 19.43 grams of cannabis, 7.5 grams of cannabis resin and a pipe fitted for the use in connection with a controlled drug.
Crown counsel Cindy Clarke told the court Gimach and his wife were passengers on the Norwegian Star that arrived in Dockyard on May 2.
At 9:37 that morning, customs officers were conducting searches of the ship.
They went to the defendant’s cabin and a sniffer dog alerted them to the safe.
Inside the safe were four plastic bags of plantlike material and a glass pipe.
Police came to the ship and Gimach was arrested.
He told officers: “I’m really sorry to put you through this.
“They are mine, my wife’s going to kill me.”
Addressing the court, Gimach said: “I just want to apologise for bringing this matter before you.
“It’s embarrassing and I apologise to the court, the government, the police, customs and the ship as well.
“Ignorance is not excused but I wasn’t aware of the ramifications and the repercussions.”
Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner then asked him if he knew what the penalties were in New York.
Gimach said he didn’t.
Mr Warner then questioned why Gimach had been charged with simple possession instead of importation or possession with intent because of the amount.
“Although the courts are separate from the prosecuting authority, there is a synergy yet still between the two and that synergy is there so that everybody operates on the same page.”
In Bermuda, 20 grams of cannabis is usually possession with intent to supply.
He continued: “I’m just saying that when one considers the difficulty in sentencing in this type of situations, one must be very careful with how people are charged.”
Ms Clarke said the maximum fine for simple possession is $1,000, but said an alternative could be a “global fine” on the drug equipment charge.
The maximum fine for that is $500,000.
However, defendants are usually charged $500 for possession of drug equipment, Mr Warner said.
Ms Clarke suggested Mr Warner give Gimach a larger fine for count three that pertained to all the charges.
Mr Warner said: “A fine in these circumstance or the fine that is available is inadequate.”
Leo Mills, acting as duty counsel said: “What I would say is that obviously the defendant has admitted his guilt for having the drug in his possession.
“He recognises the difficulty he faces in regards to the amount he had.
“I am instructed it was for personal use.”
Mr Warner gave Gimach a $1,000 fine for each drug charge and a $2,000 fine for the pipe to be paid forthwith.