A CARENAGE fisherman has been sentenced to a little under 15 years’ hard labour for trafficking 37.6 kilogrammes of marijuana in 2006.
Peter Coltes, 61, was convicted by a Port of Spain jury in June, and was sentenced on Monday by Justice Maria Wilson in the Port of Spain High Court.
Wilson began with a 20-year starting point but reduced it to 17 years because of the age of the offence and Coltes’ age, the testimonials presented on his behalf and the fact that she did not need to deter him from reoffending.
It was Coltes’ second trial.
She also ordered that the 806 days he spent in custody awaiting trial be deducted, leaving a little under 15 years left for him to serve.
Coltes had been held by the Coast Guard (CG) on July 29, 2006, off the Chaguaramas coast, after they received a call about a vessel travelling from Venezuela to Trinidad.
After leaving the CG headquarters at Staubles Bay in the Midnight Express interceptor, the coastguardsmen spotted the 30-foot pirogue and stopped abruptly alongside it. There were two men in the pirogue – Coltes, who was piloting the pirogue, and another man.
The coastguardsmen signalled to them to stop, but the pirogue sped off and while pursuing the boat, the officers saw one of the men throwing two black garbage bags into the water.
Eventually, the coastguardsmen were able to stop the pirogue between Centipede Island and the mainland. They also collected the two garbage bags and told Coltes and the other man to board the Midnight Express.
Coltes admitted there was marijuana in the bags and men were taken to Staubles Bay, while the pirogue was towed there. The coastguardsmen inspected the bags and called the police.
When questioned, he told the police: “Boss, that is mine. When I see the Coast Guard, I get frightened and throw it overboard.”
The actual marijuana weighed 37.6 kilogrammes.
The State was represented by Joy Balkaran and Shabanna Shah and Coltes was represented by Raphael Morgan at his trial.