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$50,000 fine for possession of ganja

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

THE man who left his two-year-old son behind as he grabbed a bag of marijuana and ran from the police, was yesterday ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.

Should all the money go unpaid in the next five months, convict Jeffrey Sydney will serve eight years behind bars.

Sydney, 54, was found guilty by a jury three weeks ago for possession of 1.98 kilogrammes of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. The drugs had a street value of $60,000.

Justice Anthony Carmona yesterday passed sentence on Sydney, a farmer of San Pedro, Poole.

State attorney Jennifer Martin 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 the vehicle to a dead-end road.

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

The others were ages 15 and 17.

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

The jury did not buy Sydney's story that it was his ex-wife who was driving the vehicle on that November night 12 years ago, and it was she the police had seen running from the van.

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

He alleged that it was after this incident that the officer charged him.

Sydney also claimed that Awong-Cole had promised that he (Sydney) would one day "make a jail".

At the last hearing, Carmona said it was all a long-winded tale and a remarkable story.

Carmona said on the morning of the incident, the two-year-old child was being used as a decoy in the vehicle.

Sydney was represented by defence attorney Wiltson Campbell who said his client walks with the aid of crutches after he was shot in the knees by men who came to steal the wild meat he had for sale.

Carmona yesterday ordered that Sydney pay $5,000 by next week Wednesday and he gave him until June 4 to pay the balance.

Awong-Cole and the other officers involved in the case were praised by the judge who ordered that they receive the maximum $500 commendation for their work on the case.

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