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Drug trafficker used own child as decoy, says judge

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

A MAN who left his two-year-old son in a vehicle—when he fled police with a bag containing $60,000 in marijuana—was on Thursday told his defence was a "long-winded tale".

Jeffrey Sydney, 54, of San Pedro, Poole, came before Justice Anthony Carmona, expecting to be sentenced on the charge of possession of 1.98 kilogrammes of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

Last week, a jury found him guilty of the offence.

State attorney Jennifer Martin had called detective Vincent Awong-Cole as the main witness.

He testified that around 4 a.m. on November 3, 2000, he and other officers were on road-traffic duty, when one of the officers signalled a van driven by Sydney to stop.

Awong-Cole said the van sped off and they chased it to a dead end.

The officer testified Sydney, whom he knew for over 15 years, ran from the vehicle to nearby bushes, "leaving behind three persons—one of whom was a two-year-old boy".

The others were aged 15 and 17.

A warrant was executed on Sydney at the Rio Claro Police Station weeks later.

The jury dismissed Sydney's claim that he was charged by the officer who had, before the incident, allegedly told him he would "make sure that (he) make a jail".

Sydney had claimed Awong-Cole had been courting his (Sydney's) sister, but Sydney told her that he had seen the officer with other women.

Martin told the court such allegations had caused "anguish" to the officer and his family.

But Carmona said Awong-Cole had been vindicated, as the jury failed to believe Sydney's "long-winded tale".

The jury also disregarded Sydney's story that it was his ex-wife who was driving the vehicle on the night of November 3, 2000, and it was she the police had seen running from the van.

"It was a remarkable story," Carmona said.

He said the child was being used as a decoy on the morning of the incident.

Defence attorney Wilston Campbell asked the court to take into consideration that the case was 12 years old and his client had "walked the straight and narrow" since then.

He said two years ago his client was shot in the right knee by men who came to steal the wild meat he was selling. Sydney, he said, now walked with the assistance of crutches.

He also said his client was integral in saving a Seventh Day Adventist church in San Pedro from burning back in 2011. It was Sydney, a letter from the pastor of the church said, who saw the smoke and organised residents to help.

Campbell asked that Sydney, who is now a farmer, be placed on a bond. Sydney's sentencing was adjourned to next Friday.

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