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Magistrate orders forfeiture of $5,720 from Chateau men

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Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, on Wednesday, January 19, granted an application by prosecutors from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for forfeiture of $5,720 from two Chateaubelair men, St Elmore Johnson and Philbert Jackson. They, however, told the court that they received the money by legitimate means.{{more}}

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, at the Serious Offences Court, Police Corporal 147 Marley Lewis of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) told the court that on December 27, 2008, he and other members of the unit were conducting a stop and search operation in the Chateaubelair area.

He noted that a vehicle, occupied by Johnson, Jackson and two women, was seen travelling towards Kingstown and was signalled to stop. Lewis said the vehicle was searched but nothing illegal was found. He, however, said $3,400 was found on Jackson and $2,320 on Johnson.

When asked about the money, Lewis said one of the men told him that he was working in Mustique, but could not say where in Mustique he was working. Lewis noted that the other man explained that the money was from agricultural produce, but later changed his story to say that he was paid off by his boss.

Lewis, however, added that both men gave a police statement indicating that the money came from drugs.

During cross examination, the men’s Lawyer Arthur Williams said that Lewis forced his clients to say that they got the money from drugs. He also accused the police of holding the men at the Chateaubelair police station for over six hours.

“The fellas wanted to go back to meet the ladies and they tell you what you wanted to hear,” Williams added.

When Jackson took the stand, he told the court that he worked at a construction site in Mustique and was paid $100 a week. He said the money that was found on him was from savings and what he collected on December 24, 2008. Jackson said he had the money on him until the day he was arrested.

He added that he told the police that he sold drugs because they were interrogating him.

“I was forced to say things in the statement and them force me to call Johnson name,” Jackson said.

In Johnson’s testimony, he told the court he received the money from agricultural products and that a woman gave him the $2,320 the same night he was arrested.

The 41-year-old, whose vehicle was stopped at 8:45 p.m., explained that he was going to pay his bills and drop some money for his daughter.

Johnson said he never told the police that he sold marijuana to a Dominican and collected the money at Richmond Beach.

In his closing submission, counsel Williams contended that his clients were harassed by the police.

Describing the case as “frivolous”, Williams said the police should have let the men go about their business.(KW)

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