Saturday 22 September, 2018

Antiguan football official granted bail on ganja rap; another remanded

One of two members of the Antigua and Barbuda football team management who were slapped with ganja-related charges after the drug was found in a suitcase at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston as they prepared to leave the island on Monday, was granted bail on Thursday, while the other remains in custody.

Forty-nine-year-old assistant coach, Derrick Edwards, was offered bail in the sum of $200,000, while 48-year-old equipment co-ordinator, Danny Benjamin, was remanded. Both men are from Jennings Village in Antigua.

They are charged with possession of ganja, taking steps to export ganja, and conspiracy. The bail hearing took place in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Thursday before presiding Judge, Vaughn Smith.

The attorney representing Edwards said CONCACAF has indicated that his client will be permitted to stay at one of its properties while he is out on bail, a condition of which is that he surrenders his travel documents.

The court was told that ganja weighing 3.6 pounds was found in luggage that was checked in under Edwards’ name. However, Edwards claimed he had no knowledge that the drug was in his luggage. Instead, the court was told that as equipment co-ordinator, Benjamin has sole responsibility for the packing of the team’s bags.

The attorney also told the court that there was no evidence that suggested that the bags were in Benjamin’s possession at all times. However, that position was rejected by the prosecution, which indicated that the bags were kept in a room at the hotel that was only accessible by Benjamin. Closed circuit television cameras in the hotel’s lobby reportedly showed only Benjamin handling the bags.

The court was told by an investigating officer that while reviewing the footage, Benjamin was observed putting what appeared to be clothes in one of the bags.

Having heard the testimony, the judge denied bail for Benjamin.

Edwards and Benjamin were detained at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston’s as they prepared to fly home to Antigua after their team’s 1-1 draw with Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in a friendly international match at Sabina Park on Sunday.

The drug was detected during X-ray examinations at the airport.

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