Drug defendant, Taoa Faraimo Stowers, convicted of cultivating 160 marijuana plant, has been jailed for three years and six months.
The sentence was handed down by Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Falefatu Tiava’asu’e Sapolu.
Taoa faced charges of cultivation, possession of narcotics, possession of the seeds, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unlawful ammunitions.
He pleaded guilty to all five charges, at the earliest reasonable opportunity.
Taoa is charged together with two other accused and have already entered guilty pleas.
According to the summary of facts, on Thursday, 11 January, 2018 around 6pm, the Police arrived at Satapuala with a search warrant to search a land in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation.
“Whilst the Police were conducting their search, they saw marijuana plants growing on a neighbouring land which belongs to the accused. The Police then contacted the accused to come to where they were.
“When the accused arrived, he was questioned by the Police about the land where the marijuana plants were growing.
“He admitted to the Police that the land belongs to him and the marijuana plants also belong to him.
“The Police then conducted a search of the accused’s land and found 160 marijuana plants between six inches to eight feet high, 867 marijuana branches weighing a total of 11.675 kilograms and between 3 to 11 inches long, 9,545 marijuana seeds, loose marijuana leaves weighing 21.4 kilograms, an unregistered air gun, and five unlawful ammunitions.
“The accused was then arrested and brought to the Apia Police Station for further investigation.”
The accused’s matter was referred to the Alcohol Drugs Court clinician for screening. However the A.D.C. did not recommend him for further assessment because he was not suitable for the A.D.C.
According to the pre-sentence report, the accused is a 39-year-old male of Satapuala. He is married with eight children.
“He had a low level of education having left school at Year 8. He then worked at the Fletcher Construction Ltd as a plumber for one year before working for S.T.E.C. at one of its Vaipapa properties for eight months.
“The accused admitted to the probation service that he started smoking marijuana in 1998 to give him energy when carrying out his chores.
“In 2012, he started his marijuana plantation not only for his personal consumption but to earn a living for him and his family.
“He said a six foot marijuana branch could sell for $500. The money that he earned from his drug business was used to provide for his family.
“He also owns a car. As a result of this matter, the accused has been banished from his village of Satapuala.”
The Chief Justice pointed out that Taoa is a first offender.
The aggravating features relating to this offending is the large and substantial quantity of marijuana plants the accused was cultivating, the large and substantial quantity of marijuana substances found in the accused’s possession, and the marijuana was not only for the accused’s personal consumption but was for a commercial purpose.
The mitigating features relating to the accused as offender are the banishment that has been imposed on him by his village and his early guilty plea.
“The fact that the accused is a first offender is neutral and given the circumstances of this case, I do not consider that the first offender status of the accused is a reflection of good character.
“It is therefore not a mitigating feature relating to the accused as offender.”
The aggravating features relating to this offense is the prevalence of drug offending and the need for personal and general deterrence in this type of case.
The Chief Justice noted that applying the totality principle, the accused is convicted and sentenced on the lead offence of cultivation of prohibited plants to four years and eight months imprisonment.
“On the charge of possession of narcotics, the accused is convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
“On the charge of possession of the seeds of a prohibited plant, the accused is convicted and sentenced three and a half years imprisonment.
“On the charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, the accused is convicted and sentenced to nine months imprisonment.
“On the charge of possession of unlawful ammunitions, the accused is convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
“All sentences to be concurrent. Any time that the accused has already spent in custody is to be deducted.”