UPDATE: Ford's sentencing hearing adjourned, Grange says prison term would be traumatic for hundreds
Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer
Veteran politician Olivia 'Babsy' Grange believes it would be "traumatic" for hundreds of Jamaicans if convicted medical doctor Jephthah Ford is sent to prison.
Grange, who is the Minister of Sports, Culture and Gender Affairs, was giving character evidence during Ford's sentencing hearing in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court today.
She admitted that she was a "little emotional" as she took the witness stand and described Ford as a caring person who has saved many lives and provided free health care to countless persons.
"He cares about people regardless of their status in life or their political persuasion," Grange testified, acknowledging their affiliation to opposing political parties.
"Our political differences have never affected our relationship," she added.
In August, Ford was convicted of corruption.
During the trial, Prosecutor Joel Brown led evidence that the well-known medical doctor offered a police investigator millions of dollars to free two Surinamese men.
Ford also offered the investigator a percentage of the US$533,000 that was seized from the men during an operation in Half Way Tree, in St Andrew in 2014.
The trial featured a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Ford and the police investigator.
According to the investigator, it was during that meeting Ford told him that the charges against the two men were "spurious and could not see the light of day" and asked him to indicate an amount he would accept to set them free.
The doctor was found guilty of two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice by Senior Parish Judge Simone Wolfe Reece.
Today, Grange testified that she has known Ford for 37 years and said he has been her family doctor for decades.
She also disclosed that Ford has treated free of cost, scores of persons she recommended to him.
"He has been doing that for me since I was a senator," she recounted.
The hearing will continue on November 2.