A driver from Cocorite serving a 20-year sentence for trafficking liquid cocaine concealed in cans of juice is challenging his conviction and sentence.
Appellate Judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Mark Mohammed, and Malcolm Holdip reserved their decision in Stephen Gocking’s appeal after hearing lengthy submissions during a virtual hearing, yesterday morning.
Presenting submissions on Gocking’s behalf, attorney Shaun Morris claimed that the trial judge, who presided over Gocking’s case, made several errors in summing up the case to the jury that eventually convicted him. Morris also claimed that the sentence imposed by the judge was too severe when compared to other similar drug trafficking cases.
A central issue in the appeal was Gocking’s link to the apartment where the drugs were allegedly found. During the trial, Gocking denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he merely borrowed the location from his uncle to have a “romantic interlude” with a female friend.
Responding to the appeal, prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal claimed that the jury came to the right conclusion based on the totality of the evidence.
“There is no necessity for the State to prove that he lived there only that he had control of the apartment,” Dougdeen-Jaglal said.
Gocking was charged with trafficking 21.74 kilos of cocaine on August 14, 2001.
According to the evidence presented during his brief trial, Gocking was arrested by officers of the now-restructured Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit (OCNU) at an apartment at Franklyn Road, Union Road, Four Roads, Diego Martin.
Gocking was found in the apartment along with a woman.
During the search, Charles found two devices used to seal cans in the bedroom, and two boxes with 45 juice cans, and a large quantity of Acetone in the kitchen.
When police opened the cans they found solids suspended in an Acetone solution.
They then searched a car, which Gocking admitted belonged to his wife, and found 161 cans containing the same mixture.
Charles claimed that Gocking fainted during the search and told him that the canning equipment was for his catering business and his female friend did not know about the contents of the cans.
Both Gocking and the woman were initially charged for the drugs but she was freed at the end of the preliminary inquiry.
After the prosecution closed its case, Gocking elected to go into the witness box and testify in his defence.
Gocking admitted to being at the location when the narcotics were found but claimed that the apartment belonged to his uncle.
Gocking claimed that he and his female friend borrowed the apartment for a “romantic interlude” and initially thought his wife had sent someone to investigate the affair when police first entered the apartment.
Gocking also claimed that his ex-wife’s car did not contain the cans of the cocaine cocktail and that police placed them there, after finding them in the apartment.
Gocking is also being represented by Larry Williams.