Bowen et Al v Commissioner of Police

JudgeWilliams, C.J.
Judgment Date30 May 1988
Docket NumberNo. 31 of 1987
CourtDivisional Court (Barbados)
Date30 May 1988

Divisional Court

Williams, C.J.; Husbands, J.

No. 31 of 1987

Bowen et al
Commissioner of Police

Mr. E. Hinds for the appellant Bowen.

Mr. Richard Byer for the appellant Niles.

Mr. C. Leacock for the respondent.

Criminal law - Appeal against conviction — Dangerous drugs

Williams, C.J.

On April 22, 1985 the appellant Christopher Bowen was convicted by the Chief Magistrate of the unlawful possession of cannabis contrary to section 5A of the Narcotic Drug Act, Cap. 140A and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. The appellant Mona Niles who had been jointly charged with Bowen and had pleaded not guilty, had on March 11, 1985 changed her plea to one of guilty and she was on April 22 given a like sentence.


The evidence disclosed that on June 22, 1984 Niles brought in three suitcases containing cannabis on Pan Am flight 220 and that Bowen collected the suitcases. Bowen made an unsworn statement in which he said that he went to meet Niles at the request of a friend and did not know that the suitcases contained cannabis.


Niles appeals against sentence and Bowen appeals on the following grounds:–

    there was no, or insufficient, evidence to establish guilty knowledge on his part that the suitcases contained a narcotic drug; 2. the Chief Magistrate wrongly permitted the prosecution to amend the charge to read “section 5A” instead of “section 5” after all the evidence had been taken; 3. in any case section 5A of the Narcotics Drugs Act, Cap. 140A did not create an offence; 4. there was no reference in the charge sheet to section 20 of the Act which creates the offence as is required by rule 9(2) of the relevant rules; and 5. the conviction is bad in law in that it does not record the section of the Act that has been contravened.

The Chief Magistrate stated in his reasons:

“The Court, in arriving at its verdict of guilty found that the accused used his position as a police officer to get cannabis through customs. He expended considerable effort and scheming to achieve this, far beyond what might be necessary to help a friend get off a few dollars in duty. He did not try to do this, but tried and succeeded in getting the cases out of customs without inspection. He got entry into the departure lounge as he was a police man, and refused to sign the appropriate book provided for police officers. He then scuffled with the red cap to prevent him going to the customs officer saying “it is alright, it is alright.” Then he, according to the guard Nurse in cross-examination, stood back some distance, with the red cap, only proceeding to the exit after the accused Niles had cleared customs and gone outside. Then, when stopped, he claimed he was a policeman and grabbed the cases taking them past the guard and put them in a taxi. Then he removed them from the taxi and proceeded away from the airport with them.

All this pointed to the accused knowing the quality and nature of the goods he was seeking to protect and he felt sure that as a police officer he could get away with it. He even expressed to Sergeant Foster the view that as a police officer he didn't see why he should be searched. The Court is satisfied that accused knew the cases contained cannabis and found him guilty.”


In our view Bowen's actions provided overwhelming proof that he knew what the suitcases contained and the Chief Magistrate had ample evidence on which he could make such a finding.


Section 5 of the Narcotic Drugs Act, Cap. 140A imposes restrictions on the...

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