Court upholds drug dealer’s 10-year sentence

2014-08-22 00:00

THE appeal court has upheld a 10-year jail sentence for a man who took phoned-in orders for crack cocaine in the St Lucia area in 2011.

Three years of the sentence imposed on Francis Ojideagu (31) of Richards Bay was conditionally suspended.

In a reserved judgment, Judge Kate Pillay said that dealing in drugs was a serious crime, which often had devastating consequences for the purchaser and his or her family.

The investigating officer, Etienne Louw, had testified at the trial that it was a difficult crime to police using conventional methods, which was why it was prevalent.

In the judge’s view, the time had come for courts to show their disapproval by imposing sentences that did not only deter individuals but had a general deterrent effect.

“Dealers show scant regard for the emotional and physical well being of the persons to whom they sell drugs,” the Judge added.

She said she accepts that each case has to be dealt with on its merits, but in this case, the court did not feel the sentence imposed on Ojideagu was inappropriate.

Louw said he’d known Ojideagu for three years when he received new information that he was selling drugs in St Lucia, which were reportedly being “dropped off on order”.

Orders were made telephonically.

Louw applied to the office of the director of public prosecutions in Pietermaritzburg to get the go ahead to carry out an undercover operation, which was granted.

On Louw’s instructions, an informer, Tanya Venter, called Ojideagu on his cellphone in his presence, introducing herself as “Storm”, and ordered R1 500 worth of cocaine.

Arrangements were made for her to obtain the drugs on February 18, 2011.

The “drop off” was at the Spar in St Lucia.

Venter had kept in touch telephonically with the supplier, up to the time Ojideagu arrived at the parking lot at Spar in a black Citi Golf.

He handed her a parcel wrapped in black plastic in exchange for the money that police had given to her. He was arrested the following day.

It was submitted on behalf of Ojideagu at his appeal that police had initiated the commission of the crime, which is not allowed in terms of the guidelines regulating undercover operations.

However, the appeal court said Venter did not entreat Ojideagu to engage in any illegal activity and the judges were not persuaded that the trap had gone beyond providing an opportunity for Ojideagu to commit the offence.

The appeal court was also satisfied that an undercover operation was necessary because conventional methods would not have worked.

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