Published: 12:18, 17 August 2006
AN informant who will live in fear for the rest of his life after giving vital help to the police has received a massive reduction in sentence for drug offences and mortgage fraud.
Stephen Barge was told by a judge that he could have been jailed for 10 years, but because of the assistance he had given the term was being reduced to three years.
Time spent on remand means that the 33-year-old roofer will be free within four months. He and his family will then be under a witness protection scheme, living at a secret address.
One criminal Barge helped bring to justice is Raymond Conefrey, 37, of Heathcott Road, Aylesford, who was last week jailed for three years for concealing criminal property, possessing an imitation firearm at the time of arrest and possession of ammunition when prohibited.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Barge, whose address has not been revealed, admitted to having 100kg of cannabis worth about £60,000 wholesale.
He also pleaded guilty to supplying cannabis and cocaine and committing a £170,000 mortgage fraud at a bank in Aylesford.
James Vine, defending, said there was no drugs case against the father-of-two until he told police about it.
Judge John MacDonald, QC, said Barge deserved credit for the help he had given the authorities and would allow a 70 per cent reduction in the sentence he would have passed in a contested case.
The judge agreed to recommend that Barge served the remainder of his sentence outside the south of England.