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Belgian farmer gets suspended sentence for cocaine

Published:Saturday | March 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


The Belgian national who was arrested for cocaine possession at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on Sunday, March 3, was given a suspended sentence in the St James Parish Court yesterday.

Jan Gerebern Kempen, a 55-year-old sheep farmer of a Retie address in Belgium, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and attempting to export cocaine when he appeared before presiding judge Sandria Wong-Small. However, he pleaded not guilty to dealing in cocaine.

During Kempen’s sentencing hearing, his attorney, Shelly-Ann Hyman, asked Judge Wong-Small to be lenient in sentencing the defendant.

“This is the first time he has found himself in these circumstances, and it was less than one ounce of cocaine,” said Hyman. “I am hoping you would be minded to impose a fine that’s on the lowest end of the scale so that Mr Kempen can return home to his obligations.”

“Does he know that by doing this, he may not be allowed to come back? Even if I don’t do it, Immigration has the right to refuse him entry,” Wong-Small answered sternly.

“I’m going to be imposing a fine, but in the event that you come back to Jamaica, you need to be reminded that you’re not to come here and break our laws,” the judge told Kempen.

Kempen was then sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and he was ordered to pay a fine of J$10,000 or spend 30 days in prison for possession of cocaine, and J$15,000 or 30 days for attempting to export cocaine. The court made a no-evidence motion in relation to the dealing charge.

According to police reports, on March 3, Kempen was preparing to board a flight to Belgium when lawmen transferred him from the security checkpoint to a room, where he was interviewed.

Shortly afterwards, Kempen asked to use the restroom. When he removed his shorts, a packet with a white powdery substance fell into the toilet. The packet was retrieved and its contents, when tested, were confirmed to be cocaine.

Kempen was then arrested and charged.