Mother found guilty of drug dealing

A mother of four children from Nuu-Fou and Toamua,  could follow her husband to jail, after she was found guilty by the Supreme Court for drug dealing.

Christina Schuster had pleaded not guilty to two charges of possession of marijuana discovered during a Police raid at their home in Nuu-Fou last year. 

But Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke found her guilty of the charges, which she was jointly charged for with her husband last year. 

Her husband, Jeffrey Schuster, was sentenced earlier this year to 3 years and six months in prison for the same offending.

Mr. Schuster had pleaded guilty while his wife denied the charges. 

Police confiscated a substantial amount of narcotics consisting of 81 marijuana branches, 320 plastic bags of loose marijuana leaves and marijuana cigarettes from the couple's family home in Nu'u-Fou. 

Mrs. Schuster was represented by lawyer, Treena Atoa. 

In delivering the verdict, Justice Leiataualesa said he does not accept the woman's claim that she had no knowledge of the substantial marijuana hidden in various places of their home. 

“I accept as proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had both the physical possession of the marijuana, that is the actual or potential physical custody or control of the marijuana as well as knowledge and intention,” said Justice Leiataualesa. 

“She together with her husband were involved in the packaging and sale of marijuana from their property at Nuu-fou. 

“The marijuana found on their property following the Police raid on the 21st December 2018 was a commercial enterprise in which she together with her husband were both involved.”

Justice Leiataualesa urged the accused to seek arrangement for the care of her children as the offending she is found guilty of is likely to get an imprisonment term. 

Mrs. Schuster said the only people in her family are her children, her husband who is now in jail and her father that is overseas.

She added that her father does not return to Samoa until March next year. 

But Justice Leiataualesa told the mother that the Court will not wait until March to deliver her sentence. 

The Judge then agreed after queries to Mrs. Schuster that her matter will be called again on 31 January for her pre-sentencing report, probation report and summary of facts. 

The mother is remanded on bail until her next appearance. 

In his discussion, Justice Leiataualesa made reference to a search warrant executed by Police on the morning of 21             December 2018 at Nu’u where a significant amount of marijuana was found. 

The marijuana were found in various places including in a jeans pocket, in a plastic on the kitchen bench, in black sports bags, trash bags and ie lavalava  

“I found the accused and Tofiga’s asserted ignorance of the presence of this very substantial amount of marijuana found by Police in their home entirely unbelievable and implausible,” said the Judge.

“Their evidence in my assessment was self-serving and devised to minimise their presence and movements in their home in order to deny any knowledge of the marijuana found there.

“For Tofiga, he was also an evasive witness with his evidence shifting as he gave it.

 “For the accused, she did so principally by asserting that because of her alleged long work hours, she was never home such as to know that there was marijuana in the home.”

In her evidence, Mrs. Schuster claimed that she did not do any cleaning, cooking or domestic chores.

She claimed it was her husband that dealt with the domestic chores.

“She also testified that she didn’t sleep with her husband on the mattress in the room adjacent to the kitchen, contrary to Lele’s evidence about their sleeping arrangements and what Constable Stowers said in her evidence was conveyed to her by the accused,” said the Judge.

“I do not accept the accused’s evidence about her sleeping arrangements with Mr. Schuster, that evidence in my view designed to detach her from any connection to the marijuana found under the mattress in the room adjacent to the kitchen…”

Furthermore, Justice Leiataualesa said there was no evidence from Mrs. Schuster's former employer or workplace that corroborate her evidence about her working hours “which I found exaggerated”. 

“Nevertheless, given the small size of their home, the large quantity of marijuana found and where it was found, her alleged busy work schedule simply is not a plausible explanation for her claimed lack of knowledge of the presence of marijuana in their home.”

Attorney General lawyer, Fuifui Ioane, was the prosecutor in the matter. 

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