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$100,000 bail for Morton, Willett on ganja charge
Just as the T&T national cricket team was on the brink of defeat against the Leeward Islands in the regional four-day competition, batsman Runako Morton and allrounder Tonito Willett appeared before a Port-of-Spain magistrate, charged with the possession of marijuana. Morton, 32, a father of three, and Willett, 28, also a father of three, were each released on $100,000 bail to be approved by the Clerk of the Peace. The pair are from Nevis. Magistrate Debby-Ann Bassaw alternatively ordered that the men pay a cash bail of $20,000 for their release.
But up to late yesterday, they were unable to post bail and were whisked into a waiting prison van and taken to the Remand Yard prison. Both men played on Friday’s opening day of the fixture, a crucial clash which would have seen the T&T outfit go into the final round with a win. But they took no further part in the match, after they were arrested and held without bail at the Morvant Police Station. Yesterday, as the men were ordered to surrender their passports, attorney Lennox Sankersingh, who represented the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, said he did not know of the future of Morton in the T&T national team.
“That depends on whether he is selected to play on the team. I am not a selector,” the lawyer said. Bassaw had asked for Morton to surrender his passport as a condition for his release but she also questioned whether Morton would be required to travel with the national team. West Indian Players’ Association president Dinanath Ramnarine sat in the audience to lend support to the sportsmen. The cricketers are charged, alongside Nicole Branch, 37, a mother of three, of Las Lomas, and Janelle Thomas, 28, of Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas. Both women were released on the same bail amount when they appeared before Bassaw in the Port-of-Spain Tenth Court yesterday.
The quartet was arrested by North Eastern Division Task Force officers while driving along Lady Young Road, Morvant, early Saturday morning. It is alleged that they were held with 407 grams of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $4,070. At their initial court hearing yesterday, Morton was represented by attorney Owen Hinds Jr, while Sushilla Jadoonanan appeared for Willett. Sgt Wayne Mohammed prosecuted for the state. The accused reserved their right to decide whether to have the trial heard before Bassaw in the Magistrates’ Court, or before a judge and jury at the High Court. They were ordered to return to court on Thursday.
Batting for the T&T team Friday, Morton made seven runs before his stumps were uprooted by Leewards fast bowler Gavin Tonge. Morton, who is a resident of T&T and has been living with his wife at Rainbow Drive, Crystal View, Princes Town, has played 15 Tests and 56 One Day Internationals with the West Indies senior team.
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