Antiguan football officials give God thanks after freed on ganja charge

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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THE two Antiguan and Barbudan football officials who were arrested on ganja-related charges after 3.6 pounds of the weed were found in a piece of their luggage, yesterday expressed deepest gratitude to God after they were freed of the charges.

Assistant coach Derrick Edwards, 49, and equipment coordinator Danny Benjamin, 48, were freed of possession of ganja, dealing in ganja, taking steps preparatory to export ganja and conspiracy yesterday, when they appeared in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.

Parish Judge Broderick Smith freed the two after the prosecutor informed the court that the Crown, while preparing for the trial, realised that it did not have sufficient evidence to prove that the men had breached the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The prosecutor also pointed out that even though it had footage of Benjamin handling the bag at his hotel, “the Crown could not say that at all material time the bag was under his control”.

The prosecutor also pointed out that the Crown would be hard-pressed to prove knowledge as both men indicated that they were not aware of how the drugs got into the luggage.

The two officials were arrested at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on March 26 when the drugs were found in a laptop bag in Edwards' luggage. Edward and Benjamin were both responsible for the team's luggage.

The football officials, who had maintained their innocence from the outset of the case, were overjoyed when the court handed down its decision in the case yesterday.

“I feel really good because justice has been served. We are totally innocent but unfortunately we had to stay here for two and half months. It was very hard away from our family and work, but I thank God for every thing that he has done,” said Benjamin.

“Prayer do move mountains [and] when you are a Christian you just have believe in God that He will deliver us,” the overjoyed and relieved Benjamin told the Jamaica Observer outside the courtroom.

According to him, it was a very difficult and stressful period for him as prior to being arrested, he had just returned home from New York for medical treatment and came to Jamaica on national duties.

Benjamin also mentioned that he should have returned to New York for a check- up on June 5, but he said he is not worried because, “My Good is good; God, He will make sure that everything work out because I pray morning, noon and night and I know that God would deliver me”.

An equally elated and relieved Edwards said: “I have to give God all the praise because he is the one who really led us here into this situation. I don't know the reason, but at the end of the day he guided us back out of this situation and we are feeling very elated, especially for my family because it was really a long road for my family.

He explained further it was really hard on him and his family because he operates a business and was away for almost three months.

“My wife had to run the business, run the family and do her own chores.It was really difficult but at the end of the day it was my Christian faith that really kept me moving on day to day. I can't really tell you how much I really feel about the situation [but] at the end of the day I have to give thanks to God,” he said.

Lead attorney for the men, Bert Samuels and his team were happy with the outcome of the case.

“She was very fair. She looked at the DVD (footage), she looked at what happened in the lobby of the hotel just before they left, and found that others were in control and in possession of the bag which were ultimately found to have marijuana,” said Samuels.

“They have suffered as they were at the Hunts Bay lock-up, which is the worst lock-up possibly in the world. We are happy that the prosecutor did the right thing and the judge endorsed it,” he said.

However, Samuels said he felt hurt that his clients had to go through what they did, given that they were visitors.

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