Barrister Charles Richardson’s conditional discharge for cannabis possession has been replaced with a conviction and fine apparently at his own request.
Richardson, 39, first admitted the offence when he appeared at Magistrates’ Court on March 31. At that point he escaped a conviction, after his lawyer said one could wreck his career. However, the court changed his punishment in a follow-up hearing on July 9.
This newspaper was not present at that hearing, but it’s understood that Richardson asked for the conditional discharge to be revoked because of the limitations it placed on his travel, which affected his ability to visit his young sons in the UK.
A total of 8.2 grams of cannabis and 0.71 grams of cannabis resin was found at his home in Club Road, Hamilton Parish, during a Police raid on the evening of August 11 last year. He pleaded guilty to two counts of drug possession on March 31.
He admitted knowing the cannabis was in his house, but said it belonged to a houseguest.
Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher asked for the matter to be dealt with by way of a conditional discharge, as a conviction would affect Richardson’s career.
Handing him a three-year conditional discharge, Mr. Tokunbo said he recognised those implications.
The conditions of the discharge which meant no conviction against Richardson’s name were that he refrain from the use of illegal drugs and submit to random drug testing.
No conviction was to be recorded against him as long as he abided by the conditions for the next three years.
According to two sources, neither of whom was willing to speak on the record, the conditional discharge order was revoked by Mr. Tokunbo and replaced by a sentence of $500 on each count on July 9.
Mr. Richardson declined to discuss the matter.
He famously studied for his law degree in prison after being convicted of a nightclub shooting in 1995. He already had a conviction dating from 1993 for cannabis possession with intent to supply.
Richardson was called to the Bar in 2005 after his release from jail, and has since made a name for himself as one of the Island’s top defence lawyers.
The Barristers’ Code of Professional Conduct states that it is the duty of every barrister to report to the Bar Council if he is convicted of a criminal offence which involves dishonesty or which may bring the profession into disrepute.
However, the Bar Association, the governing body for lawyers in Bermuda, did not respond to questions as to whether the conviction against Richardson’s name would affect his career.
Requests to Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner for further information about the July 9 hearing were not answered by press time, and neither were requests to the Department of Public Prosecutions.
By Elizabeth Roberts