Addiction led nurse to bring cocaine for wedding trip

| 08/04/2024 | 33 Comments

(CNS): Yoojin Oh, a nurse from the United States, was fined $11,038 by the Grand Court on Friday for trying to smuggle more than 7 grams of cocaine into the Cayman Islands last month when she arrived for a destination wedding, which she missed. Justice Cheryll Richards accepted that Oh had brought the drug with her for personal use rather than commercial purposes due to a cocaine addiction, and opted to fine her instead of sending her to jail.

When Oh arrived at the Owen Roberts International Airport on 28 March, customs officers asked her a few questions as she walked through the ‘nothing to declare’ channel. Thinking that she appeared nervous, they conducted a bag search and found several baggies of cocaine in her luggage, all containing relatively small quantities but together they amounted to 7.15 grams with an estimated street value of around $850.

She was arrested, charged and remanded to Fairbanks for a week before she was bailed by her brother, a US special forces marine who travelled to the Cayman Islands to support her.

During the sentencing hearing, Oh wept quietly as the circumstances surrounding the offence were revealed to the court. Local defence attorney Jonathon Hughes from Samson Law explained that Oh had worked as an emergency room nurse in a major New Jersey hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic and had become heavily dependent on cocaine as a way of blocking out the stress and trauma in one of the worst-hit regions of the world.

However, Hughes told the court that this incident was a major wake-up call for her and she would be seeking help for her addiction, which was now out in the open. Dozens of character references were sent to the court and some were read out during the hearing. All of them expressed deep affection for Oh, describing her as a compassionate and selfless person and saying that what she had done was wrong but a mistake. Her friends and family, who know her as Grace, said that they would rally to ensure she got the help she needed to address the addiction.

Oh also wrote to the court, and Justice Richards said that she had expressed genuine remorse and had taken responsibility for what she had done. However, the judge said that this was “much more than a mistake” but a serious criminal offence.

Justice Richards noted all of the mitigation and the full circumstances of the case before arriving at a $10,000 fine — $2,500 for each of the four counts — which Oh had already paid on bond. She was also ordered to pay $1,038 in costs for the testing that was conducted on the drugs and was given until Monday morning to pay this or spend six months in jail on default.

As she handed down the sentence, the judge told Oh that she must seek help and that she should not think the non-custodial sentence in any way gave less weight to the crime.

“You let yourself, relatives and friends down, and all of them must be deeply ashamed,” Richards said, noting that she had at least made the first step by admitting she had a problem. “But you must face reality,” she said and urged Oh to get the help she needed to address her mental health without resorting to illegal drugs.

“This must be a wake-up call for you,” Richards said as she handed down the $11,038 fine.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (33)

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  1. Cayman Enquires Update says:

    7 grams 0.24 of an once= Yoojin Oh CI$11,000 fine 0.09 grams=.003 onces Adrian Scales 6 1/2 years in prison over 200 fentanyl pills = 66 grams = 2 onces yet we can hear nothing whats going here Cayman???? Here is another deadly fact the amount of a lethal dose of fentanyl is approximately 2 milligrams.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is new stuff on”the market” that is so potent that hospital’ staff passes out while changing the bedsheets of the person who uses that stuff. Facemasks and gloves provide no protection. It didn’t hit the mainstream media yet.

      Be aware. Never pickup (touch) anything from the ground. Tell your children to do the same.

  2. Anonymous says:

    any local in prison on a cocaine possession charge better Suit the judiciary asap. There is clearly a double standard of how justice is carried out on this island!

  3. SSM345 says:

    Drug rehabilitation instead of prison time is a welcome sight from our Courts; mind you that’s been the purpose of our Drug Courts since its inception……if you are an addict you get that option for your first offense(s) if being caught for personal consumption, sign up for treatment, piss clean etc etc…some (alot) don’t take that option and would rather go HMP.

    What’s different here is she imported a decent amount…that was apparently in multiple bags….which could be seen as possession with intent to supply on our local streets or bars if you were caught…in fact you would need a decent attorney to argue otherwise…

    Interesting precedent. Can put this one in the same bucket as “right to family life” excuses for serious criminals to yet again play the system….or stabbing people multiple times but pay their bills and say your sorry like recent cases suggest…

    Assuming she’s also been banned from our shores and that she has a record or that US authorities would be informed?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Most illegal drugs should be legal anyway. Nothing to see here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    She got off lucky for planning to have her own a white wedding. Anything over 3 grams is considered trafficking in Singapore and comes with flogging and up to life sentence. But here in Cayman we impose the soft option.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it was a caymanian it would have easily been 3 years at HMP and a criminal record. Sad how the laws varies for different nationalities on island.

      • anon says:

        Part of the problem is lack of funding for treatment. Where do and can persons from Cayman go to get off these addictive, soul destroying drugs? There needs to be a referral system in place to the US and particularly programs with excellent outcomes to aid their overcoming the various dreadful addictions.

    • Anonymous says:

      For tourists. Locals would be going straight to prison. Double standards.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Would possession of 7.15 grams in a local house or car amount to jail time?

  7. Anonymous says:

    yawn…another big cayman victory and its war on drugs…..zzzzzzzzzzzz.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My daughter had worked in a major hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic. What she went through is difficult to describe let alone survive.
    Please don’t insult other medical personnel by accepting her excuse as valid. She was addicted and getting off the drug is not easy. Glad she wasn’t jailed.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a valid excuse. Just about the worst thing you could be was a nurse in NYC during their outbreak. Of course you would need a drug to work those hours. I’m sure the doctors were on it too.

      If you aren’t aware, all jobs with occasionally extremely long hours are to some degree made possible by drugs. Lawyers, bankers, accountants, investment managers, cooks, entrepreneurs, medical professionals…

      Why do you think no law firm does a drug test pre-employment here? Not one.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jeez….🙉…I used to work 60-70/hr a week as a CPA in one of the Big 4. Taking drugs has never crossed my mind.

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s sarcasm right? Half the staff at the big four are loaded on Red Bull and cocaine. How do you suppose they work 18-20hrs per day, 7 days per week during audit season.

      • Anonymous says:

        BS! Full stop.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How nice of them to continue to let immigrants off with fines for the same thing Caymanians get years of jail time for.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear.

  11. Jus Dis says:

    I well understand that addiction can strike anyone! And her having much support and admitting that she will seek treatment is surely a good thing.
    I am however concerned that some custodial sentence did not occur. No mention of a deportation order? And no mention of the court or other Cayman Islands authorities contacting her work – place officially about this? Afterall she is an ER Nurse! Her addiction in such a capacity can cause serious repercussions to her patients and colleagues. And CIG Courts could find itself with some liability should she return to her job with her employers unaware or not officially notified.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A light sentence for a serious crime SMH. This country is a joke!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it is a joke but this is exactly why Cayman is not an actual country and if it is cut loose by the motherland it will become a failed state just like Jamaica.


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