By Unumoe Esera
APIA: Monday 07 May 2012: A single mother of three from Fasitoo-tai, Feviiai Isaako was convicted and sentenced to five and a half years in prison for possession of narcotics.
Feviiai, 39 years old was arrested by police in Savai’i after she was discovered travelling with marijuana weighing approximately 9.681 kilograms which is equivalent to 13,800 joints.
According to the summary of facts, the defendant met up with her cousin who asked her to travel with his wife to Savai’i taking a suitcase which contained bags of marijuana. He offered her $1000 for her assistance.
While at the Mulifanua wharf she was spotted by a police officer who was off duty and was suspicious of her actions as she was pretending to drag the suitcase as if it was heavy and it was covered by a sheet.
Upon arrival at the Salelologa wharf, police were already there to arrest Feviiai as the police officer who was on the ferry had reported the matter. The two women were taken to the police station at Tuasivi, the suitcase was searched and three large rubbish bags were found in it containing marijuana leaves and branches.
Struggling single mother
The Court took into account the probation report which states that the defendant is a single mother of three children between the ages of 9-21. She had been divorced nine years ago. She struggled to take care of her children, and only her son in America Samoa helped out. Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai noted that she worked the land to keep her son who attended the National University of Samoa and loves her family.
“If you involve yourself in drugs, the prospect of going to Tafa’igata prison is very high,” said Justice Vaai.
“Marijuana cases are prevalent and the maximum penalty has been increased by parliament, the court is therefore duty bound and must take into account during sentencing of possession of drugs,” said Vaai.
The maximum penalty for marijuana has increased from seven to 14 years.
Also, it was a serious offense considering she was planning to sell the drugs to get money and had been offered a reward of $1000 tala. The defendant told the police this was not the first time she had transferred drugs for the same drug lord.
“The defendant has unfortunately taken the risk to earn an income from marijuana and obviously knew the consequences. She now faces the reality of the path she chose to take,” said Vaai.
He said the matter must be dealt with severely so that the message is clear that a heavy penalty will be imposed when dealing with drugs. The Court also noted the substantial quantities of drugs. The cost of the drugs found is unknown but the offer of $1000 for an hour of transferring drugs by ferry to Savaii is a clear indication of its worth.
The sentence began from a starting point of five years. A year and six months was deducted for the defendant’s early guilty plea and two years were added for previous convictions. She is to serve five years and six months at the Tafa’igata prison and time spent in custody has been deducted from this sentence.