Seventy-one-year-old Grace Pierre-Holder may have landed herself in the slammer for the next six years, but the old gal did so in style, making history as the oldest person in Trinidad to be jailed for attempting to leave Piarco International Airport with cocaine in her possession for the purpose of trafficking 12 years ago.
The silver-haired grandmother’s 29-year-old co-accused, Daenah John-Finn, carved her own niche as the youngest Trinidad national on record to be charged in an airport case in relation to possession of cocaine.
The elderly Pierre-Holder, of Simon Street, Gasparillo was ordered to serve six years simple imprisonment, while John-Finn, of Old Southern Main Road, Claxton Bay Junction, Claxton Bay, was sentenced to five years with hard labour.
The sentences were handed down by Justice Carla Brown-Antoine in the Fifth Criminal Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.
Both women were found guilty of the offence on May 3, but sentencing was postponed to allow their attorneys to make pleas of mitigation on their behalf.
Leading evidence on behalf of the State were attorneys Renuka Rambhajan and Taterani Seecharan while Pierre-Holder was represented by Senior Counsel Theodore Guerra and attorney John Heath.
John-Finn was represented by attorneys Ravi Rajcoomar and Jenna Lucky-Samaroo.
Pierre-Holder and John-Finn were among a group of four arrested at Piarco International Airport while waiting to board an American Airlines flight to London via Miami on February 10, 2000.
All appeared to be mooching along smoothly until police officers discovered they had packages of cocaine concealed in the male Clarks leather shoes they were wearing.
All four were scheduled to return to Trinidad on February 13, 2000, but neither they nor their now-famous shoes ever left the ground.
Pierre-Holder’s daughter Michelle Leslie and John-Finn’s boyfriend Jason Connell were the other members of the well-heeled group.
Connell was found guilty on May 11, 2006 at the Arima Magistrate’s Court and ordered to pay $25,000 forthwith or serve three years in prison. The fine was paid. Leslie pleaded guilty on January 30, 2008 and was fined $50,000 by an Arima Magistrate.
In passing sentences on Pierre-Holder and John-Finn, the judge said those involved were part of a very carefully planned operation.
She went on to disagree with the assertion by made by Pierre-Holder’s attorney that his client’s age was a mitigating factor.
“Age should bring wisdom and society expects that our more mature citizens would be an example to our younger ones. To put it plainly, (she) should have known better,” Brown-Antoine said.