Saturday 21 April 2018

Appeal over Douglas drugs sentence

Cameron Douglas has battled drug addiction and legal trouble (AP/Chris Pizzello)
Cameron Douglas has battled drug addiction and legal trouble (AP/Chris Pizzello)

A lawyer for the troubled son of actor Michael Douglas is to try to convince a New York appeal court that he should not have to spend a decade in prison for drug crimes.

The Douglas name - first with patriarch Kirk and later with son Michael - has always meant gold for Hollywood. But drama for the third generation of the Douglas family has occurred mostly off-screen, where Cameron Douglas has battled drug addiction and legal troubles.

In papers submitted for appeal court arguments, prosecutors and a lawyer for Cameron Douglas have retold in greater detail than before how a man who seemed to have so many advantages in life could land in prison for a decade on a drug conviction.

The dispute is over Manhattan Judge Richard Berman's decision to double Douglas' five-year prison term after he committed several new drug infractions, including convincing a lawyer-turned-love interest to sneak drugs into prison for him in her bra on three or four occasions.

Judge Berman said he had not "ever encountered a defendant who has so recklessly and wantonly and flagrantly and criminally acted in as destructive and (as) manipulative a fashion as Cameron Douglas has".

In his brief, Douglas' lawyer Paul Shechtman called the additional sentence "shockingly long", saying it "may be the harshest sentence ever imposed on a federal prisoner for a drug possession offence".

Douglas, 34, was originally accused of distributing and conspiring to distribute more than 4.5kgs of methamphetamine and 20kgs of cocaine from August 2006 until his July 28, 2009 arrest at a Manhattan hotel.

At the time, he was so visibly high on heroin that he was taken first to a hospital before he was brought to court, and it was later learned he had been shooting the drug five to six times a day for five years, Mr Shechtman noted.

He was released from custody on condition that he remain under "house arrest" with a private security guard at his mother's apartment, Mr Shechtman said. Within days, he persuaded his girlfriend, Kelly Sott, to smuggle heroin to him, hidden in an electric toothbrush. Once discovered, his bail was revoked and he was incarcerated. Sott pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour in a plea deal and was sentenced to the seven months she had already served.

Mr Shechtman is arguing that the judge has gone too far with Douglas, punishing an addict for something beyond his control.

Press Association

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