By Hayley Robinson
A money launderer who hid more than 4.8 million Jamaican dollars at an industrial estate in Newington has been jailed for 21 months.
A police raid on November 26, 2008, revealed five sealed blue plastic 45 gallon drums each containing sealed bags of Jamaican 20 dollar coins stored in a unit at the London Road estate.
Thomas Ramdas, 59, who was renting the unit at the time, was arrested the same day on suspicion of money laundering.
During a three-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Ramdas claimed he had been storing the drums for three years for a relative who has since died.
He said he had no idea what was inside them until he opened one of the containers about a week before his arrest but admitted he did not think about reporting it to the police at that stage. The stash was equivalent to approximately £37,000.
But Royal Mint told police during their investigation that in September 2000 a shipment of 600 boxes of Jamaican $20 coins worth a total of 48 million Jamaican dollars had been stolen from a freight yard in Newport, Gwent, South Wales, while in transit to Jamaica.
Officials said the bags of coins at Ramdas's industrial unit were part of the original stolen load.
After deliberating for four hours, the jury found Ramdas, of Evenden Road, Meopham, guilty by unanimous verdict on Thursday, October 27.
On sentencing, His Honour Judge David Griffith-Jones said: "You (Ramdas) were in possession of one tenth of the total consignment, itself not an inconsiderable number of coins and that you played a knowing and integral part in removing these coins from this country to get them to Jamaica.
"I do not assume that you were acting alone, and were not to keep the full benefit of money, but you were acting to take a profit. My judgement therefore is that a prison sentence is demanded - nothing else will do."