Dennis Franklyn Preece was a well-known heroin dealer and user. He went by the nickname ‘Junkie’ and lived in premises at Dock Hill, Devonshire.


Acting on information received, Detective Sergeant Dennis Ramsay in company with another officer commenced watching Preece’s house in the early morning hours of a February day in 1980. From their concealed position nearby the officers saw a man arrive on a scooter and then walk towards the bathroom window. They heard words spoken after which the louver of the window opened and the officers’ saw money pass through the screen. A silver tin foil deck was returned from inside through the window.


Later that same morning, the detectives watched other people approach the same window where similar transactions took place. On one occasion, one of the buyers opened the foil deck in the yard, put his thumb into the foil, and snorted from it.

Detective Sergeant Dennis Ramsay

At precisely 11 a.m. that same morning the officers’ observations were thwarted when two people came towards them from the direction of the defendant’s residence. In D.S. Ramsay’s words, “They observed who we were. At that time I got on the radio and summoned the entire narcotics section who responded immediately.”

Narcotics squad officers entered Preece’s residence through the kitchen door. They were armed with a search warrant and immediately confronted the defendant in the company of two other men. Preece was seen to be holding a small container with a bit of masking tape wrapped around it. Before Detective Constable Chris Moyse had a chance to speak to him, Preece ran from the kitchen through the house and entered the children’s bedroom. He jumped through a glass window above a bed, crossing his hands over his head with his arms as he went to protect his face.

D.C. Chris Moyse

D.C. Moyse later told a Supreme Court jury that he followed Preece through the window and landed on top of him on the ground five feet below. A struggle ensued during which time Preece threw away a container the contents of which were found to be 67 foil wraps later analyzed to contain heroin. A partially smoked cigarette from the kitchen floor contained a mixture of cannabis and tobacco. Powder scraped from two glass plates was later found by the Government analyst, Mrs. E.W., to contain traces of heroin. Traces of drugs were also discovered in a razor blade, an ashtray and in a straw.


Follow-up arrests were later made, he said, inclusive of those who had halted the observations prematurely.

At his trial in October 1980 Preece pled not guilty to a total of four charges:- 

possession of heroin; possession of cannabis; supply of heroin; and obstructing a Police officer in the execution of his duty. Mr. Tony Palmer appeared for the defendant.


The case was heard before the Acting Puisne Judge, the Hon. Mr. Justice Barcilon.


Opening evidence from D.S. Ramsay and Dc Moyse was heard by the jury before the case was adjourned for Mr. Justice Barcilon to hear legal submissions concerning the accused’s statement of confession to the police, that he had supplied between 50 and 60 customers in the 10 days before he was arrested on February 15. He also claimed that about 300 bags of the drugs are sold in Bermuda every day.


As the Detective Inspector and OIC of the drug squad, I was the last of the Prosecution witnesses to give evidence. In answer to defence counsel, I told the court that I had good reason to believe Preece was a heroin user and that when I interviewed his client in company with another officer, he had not mentioned that he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I agreed with Mr. Palmer that during the course of my interview, his client had named his supplier which he had earlier refused to do.


Preece was found guilty of possession of heroin with intent to supply – (10 years); supplying heroin – (15 years); possession of cannabis – (one year); and obstructing Police – (one year).

He had earlier pled guilty to allowing his house to be used for the taking of drugs (five years) and possessing equipment for the use of drugs (five years).

Preece was sentenced to a total of 15 years on six offences including supplying heroin. 

All sentences ran concurrently.

After his conviction, the court was told that Preece was jailed for four years in 1975 for possession of heroin with intent to supply.


His lawyer, Mr. Tony Palmer, said Preece had only been selling heroin for five to ten days before he was arrested and he only sold the drugs to people he knew. “There has been no suggestion that he attempted to corrupt young people or that he sold it to people who did not previously use the drug,” said Mr. Palmer. “He was no more than a tool for the big fish. He also tried to hold on to a job but couldn’t. The whole thing is quite tragic.”

Before sentencing Preece, Mr. Justice Barcilon said to Dc Moyse, who had previously left the Bermuda Police Force in August to go back to England:

“I must commend you on your conduct during this case and the way you gave your evidence. I hope you will have a good long career in England and Bermuda is sorry she has lost you.”


In sentencing Preece to the 15 year stretch in Casemates, the Acting Puisne Judge, the Hon. Mr. Justice Barcilon told him:

“People like you should be punished severely. I had a man up here about a month ago by the name of [Dennis Webster] Warner and he got 15 years for exactly the same thing. And you also have a previous conviction for this (supplying heroin).”



Preece later appealed before the Court of Appeal to have his 15-year jail sentence reduced for dealing in drugs. He first appealed against conviction but later decided to appeal against sentence only. The appellant had argued that his sentence was excessive in light of the fact that at the time of his arrest he was in possession of only 1.563 grams of 34 percent strength heroin and 10.461 grams of cannabis.

In a written statement, the Appeal Court judges said that the trial judge had correctly taken a serious view of the offences committed by Preece who admitted more than two years ago to selling about 600 bags of heroin in a ten-day period. The three judges wrote:

“When deciding on a sentence, a court must take into account all the circumstances and, on his own admission, this appellant was selling heroin and cannabis to a very considerable number of addicts.”


But the Appeal Court judges said the amount seized at the moment of arrest was only one factor in deciding a sentence. And they pointed to Preece’s own admission that he was selling a large amount of heroin.


When asked how much he had sold over the previous ten days, Preece had replied:

“About five or six hundred bags …… Let me tell you mate, you don’t realize, about 300 bags a day get sold in Bermuda.”


It was also noted by the Judges that Preece had told Police before confessing:

“Look, I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t want to do no ten years.”


The 34-year old former employee of the Hamilton Princess failed in his appeal to have his 15-year jail sentence reduced.



The Royal Gazette 27 October 1980



The Royal Gazette 28 October 1980


The Royal Gazette 29 October 1980


The Royal Gazette 


Editors notes -

This article was written by retired Detective Superintendent George Rose, who was a Detective Inspector in Narcotics at the time of this case.


Dennis Ramsay served in the Bermuda Police from 1967 until 1993, and spent most of his service as a very experienced detective in C.I.D. and Narcotics retiring as a Detective Chief Inspector.


D.C. Chris Moyse joined the Bermuda Police in 1973, after first serving in the Hampshire Constabulary for 6 years.  He was transferred into CID after just 5 months in uniform and was then moved to Narcotics.  Chris left the BPS after serving here for 7 years following which we lost contact with him.  Sadly we received news earlier this year that Chris had died in Boston, Mass. on 26th July 2016 after a lengthy illness.  You can view more information about his death on our website at

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