IN an appeal to Judge Simone Wolfe-Reece yesterday, Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange asked her to spare medical doctor Jephthah Ford from jail time.
In fact, while speaking in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court as a character witness at Ford’s sentencing hearing, Grange said she believed it would be extremely “traumatic” for hundreds of Jamaicans if he were given prison time.
The minister was one of three character witnesses, including retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Garnet Daley and medical doctor Donovan Calder, that took the stand on Ford’s behalf yesterday.
The politician, who took the witness stand and described Ford as a caring person who has saved many lives and provided free health care to countless individuals, admitted yesterday that she was a “little emotional”.
She said that, despite their political affiliations, Grange being a member of the Jamaica Labour Party and Ford a former People’s National Party politician, he is her family doctor.
The minister explained that Ford was the one who diagnosed her late mother with stage-four cancer, after the doctors in Canada, where she was residing, were unable to detect what was wrong with her.
Grange said she felt responsible to give evidence in support of Ford spite of her busy schedule.
In the meantime, Ford’s sentencing hearing, which was expected to be completed yesterday, was delayed until November 2, after his attorney Bert Samuels indicated that he, too, wished to take the stand as a character witness.
Dr Ford’s bail was extended after the judge said she needed time to consider Samuels’ request.
Prior to the adjournment, Samuels, pointed out that he is prepared to “sacrifice own self”.
Ford was convicted of perverting the course of justice on October 25, 2017.
In 2014, he was arrested and charged after he attempted to bribe a police officer to release two Surinamese men who had been caught with nearly $60 million. He also requested the return of the confiscated funds.
During the 10-day trial that started in May, prosecutor Joel Brown led evidence that Ford was caught on camera offering a percentage of the money seized to a police officer in exchange for the release of the men and the funds.
The two foreigners — Roshen Daniels and Murvin Reingould — were held after police intercepted a motor vehicle on Half-Way-Tree Road in St Andrew on April 7 and found US$533,886 and J$1.3 million.
The men were later taken to their apartment where the police seized an additional US$3,000, J$700 and 55 Surinamese dollars.
The two were subsequently charged with possession of criminal property and conspiracy to possess criminal property, but were freed of the charges when they appeared in court.
Dr Ford had contacted the officer while the men were in custody and requested a meeting to discuss the case.
During the meeting, Ford was captured on camera asking for the case against the men to be dismissed.
Ford told the court, during the trial, that he was trying to assist the Surinamese men by preventing them from remaining into custody, because he feared they were going to be killed by the police.
He also indicated that he knew that he was being recorded but did it to “draw out corrupt cops”.
Before Grange took the stand yesterday, both Daley and Calder had already given evidence.
Daley, who said he came in contact with Ford while he was assigned to the Constant Spring Police Station, testified that he had known Ford for 40 years.
He said he met Ford when he was a detective inspector and testified that during his tenure at the station Ford would assist the police with sick prisoners and police officers who were injured.
The retired cop explained that for more than 20 years Ford would have treated police officers at his office if the environment at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) was not safe.
“I recalled an officer who was shot and he was rushed to KPH — and this was the time when the vicinity of the KPH was very volatile — and I called Dr Ford and he rushed to KPH, where he examined him and transferred him to St Andrew Hospital, and that patient became his patient at that time,” Daley said.
Samuels, during the examination-in-chief, asked Daley if there were any other medical doctors in the vicinity who would offer such services.
“I can’t recall,” Daley replied.
“How would you view that?” Samuels asked Daley.
“[As] a good gesture,” Daley replied.
Daley told the court that Ford still maintains a good rapport with individuals in the community.
On cross-examination, the prosecutor questioned Daley’s relationship with the medical doctor.
“For 20 years most of your interaction would be working?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes, and I would see him from time to time,” Daley replied.
In the meantime, Calder, who was an intern at the Spanish Town Hospital when he met Dr Ford, testified that he is a reliable, forthright, and strongly opinionated individual, especially on medical and political matters.
“He is the kind of person who will not stand by and see injustice being done,” Calder said, adding that Ford persuaded him to give back to society as he is a philanthropist.