A 25-year-old man from Westmoorings has pleaded guilty to having a small indoor marijuana growing operation at his home.
Elias Aboud, of Sundown Road, Goodwood Park, pleaded guilty to marijuana cultivation as he appeared before acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Cherril-Anne Antoine in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court, on Monday.
Aboud also pleaded guilty to two marijuana possession charges, two charges for possession of smoking apparatus and one for possession of a taser.
While Antoine was ready to sentence Aboud after accepting his guilty pleas, his attorney Criston J Williams requested a short adjournment to give him time to obtain character references and testimonials that would be used in his mitigation plea. Antoine adjourned the case to July 19.
Shortly after Aboud’s court appearance, his 26-year-old friend Alex Franco, of Victoria Gardens, Diego Martin, appeared before Antoine on two charges for marijuana possession and possession of smoking apparatus. Franco, a sales representative for Franco Trading and Distribution, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Although Antoine did not mention the station bail Aboud had been granted by a Justice of a Peace after he and Franco were arrested on Sunday, she stated that the $30,000 station bail that Franco had been granted was inordinately low.
“The bail does not fit the seriousness of the allegations,” Antoine said as she eventually increased the bail to $120,000.
Franco’s lawyer Suneesh Singh pleaded with Antoine to adjourn the case and institute the increase tomorrow. He claimed that because the variation was given around 2 pm, his mother, who was seated in court, would not be able to obtain approval and he would have to spend the night in remand.
Singh also asked Antoine to consider that Aboud pleaded guilty to the charges earlier in the day.
In response, police prosecutor Insp Calista Charles noted that Aboud and Franco were separately charged as they both allegedly made claims to different items that were allegedly seized by police.
While Antoine agreed that Franco could not make claims in relation to Aboud’s case, she still agreed to adjourn the case to today, to facilitate the attorney’s request.
During Franco’s hearing, Charles sought to tender the items allegedly seized in relation to him into evidence.
The items included several jars containing cured marijuana, vaping cartridges with cannabis extracts, a digital scale, wrapping paper, three roll-on marijuana cigarettes and $8,177 in cash.
As police prosecutors opened the jars containing the items, the pungent aroma of high-grade marijuana quickly engulfed the small courtroom and lingered for a while after.
According to reports, around 3 pm, Aboud and Franco were driving along Victoria Avenue, Diego Martin when they were stopped in a roadblock.
The officers allegedly found some illegal items in the car, and later obtained a search warrant and executed it on Aboud’s home.
At that location, police found potted marijuana seedlings in a specially prepared room, more cured marijuana and additional smoking apparatus. Aboud is also being represented by Raphael Morton-Gittens.
Reporter: Derek Achong