Friday, 16 September 2011

Drug dealer Harford jailed for five years


Alleged gang member Jakai Harford has been jailed for five years after admitting drug-dealing charges but being cleared of gun allegations. Harford, who has twice been shot and also lost his brother to gun violence, filmed himself on his cell phone with the narcotics in question. Police found cocaine and cannabis along with a gun during a raid at the defendant’s home in Mission Lane, Pembroke in January. A prosecution witness who told police that Harford had knowledge or control of the gun “is no longer co-operating and is not going to give evidence,” according to Ms Mulligan. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves described the 28-year-old as “a well-organised drug trader and businessman”. He also called upon him as “a leader” to put a stop to the gang violence blighting Bermuda [see separate story.] The accused man first went on trial at Supreme Court on Monday, having pleaded not guilty to possessing 118 grams of cannabis and 47 grams of cocaine with intent to supply. The court heard from police witnesses that most of the drugs were stashed in the walls and ceiling of a derelict building in Harford’s yard, packaged in twists ready for sale. A semi automatic handgun loaded with a live bullet was also hidden in the building which was enclosed within the yard of the house by a 14-foot-high wall. Detectives who detained Harford found $13,707 cash in his pockets. A further $19,000 was hidden in a laundry basket in a downstairs apartment where his mother, Valita Harford, lived. The residence is located in an increased penalty zone due to being near a church, park and pre-school. It is also on the home turf of the 42 gang that Harford allegedly belongs to. Although Harford denied all the charges at the outset of his trial, he pleaded guilty yesterday morning to possessing the drugs — worth more than $20,000 — with intent to supply. He continued to deny possessing drug equipment, in the form of scales and plastic bags, plus the handgun and bullet. Prosecutor Susan Mulligan said the pleas were acceptable to the Crown and Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves directed the jury to find Harford guilty of the drug possession charges and not guilty of the firearm, ammunition and drug equipment charges. When Harford was sentenced yesterday afternoon, Ms Mulligan explained his DNA was found on the drug wrappings, and video footage on his cell phone showed him handling the drugs and large quantities of cash in the derelict building at night-time. However, she said, Harford’s DNA was not on the gun and there was no cell phone video of him with the weapon. A prosecution witness told police that Harford had knowledge or control of the gun but “is no longer co-operating and is not going to give evidence,” according to Ms Mulligan. Defence lawyer Marc Daniels urged the judge to take into account Mr Harford’s young age and the fact he pleaded guilty to the drug charges. “Mr Harford has certainly had his share of pain and loss and he’s in the position of wanting to move on with his life,” he added. The judge replied: “But if you’re dealing in drugs, you can expect violence, can’t you?” He ordered that the $32,707 found at the house be forfeited to the court as the proceeds of crime. Harford has served time in prison before. He began committing crimes of violence and theft when he was in his late teens. In 2005, he was at the centre of a high-profile Supreme Court case when he was convicted of torturing a man by jumping up and down on his stomach and bursting his intestines. Harford carried out the attack with three other men, and ended up being jailed for four years.


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