16 months for XTC possession

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Lower sentence for Dutchman caught with ecstasy pills

GREAT BAY – The Common Court of Justice had a nice surprise in store for Anthonie Horst, a 32-year old Dutchman who was sentenced in the Court in First Instance in September of last year to 2 years of imprisonment for the possession of 2,904 ecstasy pills. The appeals court sentenced Horst to 16 months, with 8 months suspended and 3 years of probation. Most of the remaining time, Horst has already served since his arrest on July 2 of last year.

The court nevertheless found proof that the defendant had the drugs in his possession. But further consideration resulted in a remarkably lower punishment.

Horst’s attorney Sjamira Roseburg had argued that her client had been unlawfully stopped by the police. Other than the lower court, the appeals court ruled that this was indeed unlawful, because officers had stopped the car for no other reason that “this car with the same driver was controlled on June 29, 2016 and that the driver had drugs in his possession.”

Horst was a passenger in this car and the court found no indication that the stop was part of a regular traffic control. The court ruled however that the unlawful stopping of the car does not mean that the arrest of the suspect was also unlawful.

That’s because the officers saw one of the passengers hide something under the driver’s seat. That entitled them to search the car.

The court deemed entering the house were Horst lives unlawful, because there was no authorization for it and because it considers the approval of the resident of the house – Horst’s mother – as insufficient. The officers did not identify themselves, nor did they announce the reason why they wanted to enter the house.

That still did not set the defendant free because the court did not link any consequences to this violation of procedural standards. The defense argument that not all pills had been tested for MDMA – the active component of ecstasy pills – did not help either.

But in its final considerations, the court gave Horst the benefit of the doubt and said that it is unclear whether he had the intention to sell them. The defendant has not been sentenced for drugs-related crimes before and it cannot be excluded that he indeed found them at sea, the court ruled.

Prosecutor Bulletin:

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday, February 22, sentenced A.H. to 16 months in jail of which 8 months suspended with a probation period of 3 years for the possession of 2,904 XTC pills.

The Court of First Instance had sentenced A.H. on September 7, 2016, to 2 years in jail. During the hearing by the Joint Court of Justice, the Solicitor General had asked again for a two-year prison sentence.

The Joint Court of Justice found it legally and convincingly proven that the XTC pills belonged to A.H.