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Prosecutor Decides Not to Appeal a Drug Dealer’s “Unduly Lenient” Sentence

In late September, an ecstasy dealer in Jersey narrowly avoided incarceration at a sentencing hearing and was instead sentenced to community service. The Attorney General, after hearing that the dealer’s sentence included no time in prison, announced that the prosecution planned to appeal the sentence, claiming that it was “unduly lenient.” In October, the Attorney General has reversed his decision, citing a number of reasons originally mentioned by the sentencing judge.

Joel Lewis, 19, admitted trafficking thousands of ecstasy pills he had obtained through darkweb marketplaces. The case was somewhat unique for law enforcement in Jersey. And the Attorney General had to consult an English QC during and after the case to help review the details of the case and the appropriate sentence for an ecstasy dealer caught after ordering more than 300 ecstasy pills to resell at his school and elsewhere. Lewis, a former student of Victoria College, had committed the majority of his crimes while under the age of 18. Attorney General Robert MacRae acknowledged that minors generally receive relatively lenient sentences compared to their adult counterparts. However, the Attorney General had argued that the Royal Court judge treated serious crimes with undue leniency.

The court heard how employees at the Mayfair Hotel had received a suspicious package addressed to someone not staying at the hotel. Not long after the package had arrived, the hotel employees received a phone call from someone who asked if the package had arrived. The caller was an individual who introduced himself over the phone as a businessman named “Pierce Walters.” The caller asked the employees to hold the package for him until he could check into the hotel later that day. He told them that he had a business meeting planned.

Employees at the hotel found the story suspicious and thought the package could be a liability. They then called the police and asked them to examine the package. The police arrived and decided to open the package. The prosecutor told the court that the police discovered “at least” 304 ecstasy pills inside the package. According to the police, the pills were valued at £12,000 or roughly $15,000. The police left the package at the hotel and asked the employees to notify them after the recipient arrived to claim the package and check into the hotel. They also left the employees with instructions on handling the situation that amounted to “playing along” with the package recipient.

Later that day, Lewis came to pick the package up. While at the hotel, he attempted to rent a room but never actually rented one for an unknown reason. After Lewis left, the hotel employees called the police. The police watched the recorded feeds from the hotel security cameras that had captured Lewis. That presumably took copies with them to analyze later. One day later, the police identified the person who had picked up the package as a student at Victoria College. Hours after identifying him, the police arrived at the school and arrested Lewis.

Lewis talked to the police and admitted more crimes than they had accused him of committing. They likely convinced him that they had more evidence than what was actually collected. Lewis explained that he routinely ordered 300 ecstasy pills from darkweb vendors and distributed them locally. He always had the pills shipped to local hotels. According to his own testimony, Lewis would order the pills from an unknown darkweb vendor, have the pills shipped to various hotels, pick the pills up, and then distribute them to two of his friends. His friends, he said, resold the pills and gave Lewis the profit. Lewis gave them a cut of the profits in return.

The judge, during sentencing, explained how hesitant he was to pass down a non-custodial sentence but ended up sentencing Lewis to 384 hours of community service. Attorney General Robert MacRae announced that he would be appealing the sentence. After speaking with an English QC, Law Officers’ Department announced that the non-custodial sentence would not be contested and was a fitting sentence based on Lewis’ age and other factors.

Lewis, after completing community service, will join the Army.

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