Briton faces six years in Gambian jail

(First Edition)

A BRITISH charity worker yesterday faced up to six years in an African jail after being found guilty of stealing a pair of diamonds from a witchdoctor.

Phil McLean, 39, was told by a court in the Gambian capital, Banjul, that he would be jailed for four years unless he repaid the cost of the diamonds, put at about pounds 250,000, the Foreign Office said.

He was also given the choice by the court of paying a pounds 300 fine or spending a further two years in prison.

The Foreign Office said McLean had given no indication to the British High Commission in Banjul at to what he intended to do. McLean and Lyn Cummins, 32, travelled to the Gambia last year to deliver second-hand spectacles for the British Overseas Optical Mission.

They had then bought a hotel in Talinding. Miss Cummins said: 'The only thing Phil is guilty of is being naive.'

McLean said he was tricked into bringing two 'diamonds' back to Britain to get them valued for the witchdoctor. He was arrested after he returned to the Gambia and said they were worthless topaz.

Miss Cummins said: 'Our lives have been ruined.'

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