Cancer victim gets appeal date over drug conviction

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net A MAN with cancer, who is challenging the minimum four-year prison sentence he received after being convicted of drug possession last November, has been given a date to have his appeal heard in the appellate court. However, the Court of Appeal, while setting aside March 5 for the hearing, dismissed 43-year-old Anthony Armbrister's bail application due to the defence being unable to convince the court there were exceptional circumstances to allow the accused to be free until his sentencing appeal is heard. Armbrister, on November 11, pleaded guilty before Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell to possessing 51 grams of cocaine. He had told the magistrate he planned to sell the drugs to pay his medical bills. However, Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell told the defendant her hands were tied, and regardless of his medical condition, what he had done was wrong. At yesterday's bail hearing before appellate court president Justice Anita Allen, along with Justices Christopher Blackman and Abdulai Conteh, defence attorney Jomo Campbell raised concerned of the extension of the treatment his client was receiving at the Princess Margaret Hospital. He feared his client's penile cancer may have worsened. "In fact, my instructions from my client is that it has spread," said Mr Campbell. When asked about the medical reports, Mr Campbell told the justices they had not received medical reports from the hospital concerning his client despite making requests. Justice Allen asked the attorney for other grounds to be considered and he reasoned that his client did not receive any "credit or discount" for pleading guilty when being charged in spite of his condition. "That is the nature of the appeal. He pleaded guilty at this earliest opportunity." Mr Campbell added that the sentencing handed down to his client was "unduly harsh and severe". Justice Blackman retorted that the severity of the sentencing would be determined in the appeal hearing. The bail application was dismissed and they then proceeding to the second application for a time extension. Justice Allen granted Mr Campbell a time extension to file his written submissions to the court and prosecutor Anthony Delaney. Mr Campbell's filing of submissions had been out of time by only three weeks. The attorney had asked that the matter be stood down, however the justices, prepared to expedite the case as quickly as possible, offered to hear Armbrister's substantive appeal on March 5.


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