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Defence suggests accused man's rights may have been breached

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A defence attorney yesterday suggested that the rights of one of the accused in the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial may have been breached when he was asked to sign to a list of items seized by law enforcers during a raid on his house in 2016.
Defence attorney Norman Godfrey argued in court that unless it can be proven that the accused, Dwayne Sibblies, was apprised of his rights prior to signing, it should not have happened.
Sibblies is one of eight accused and was a caretaker at the home of former deputy superintendent of the corporation's Road and Works Department and co-accused, Sanja Elliott.
The raid was carried out at the corporation's offices and the homes of some senior employees by agents from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), the Financial Investigation Division (FID), and the Integrity Commission (formerly the Office of the Contractor General).
Godfrey made the suggestion during cross-examination of a constable assigned to MOCA, who acted as the scribe during the search.
There was no clarity from the witness to indicate that Sibblies was informed of his rights.
Godfrey is representing Sibblies, Elliott and Elliott's wife Tasha-Gay Goulbourne-Elliott, who are accused of involvement in the misappropriation of funds amounting to millions of dollars from the corporation.
The other accused are Elliott's parents, former director of finance and acting secretary manager at the corporation David Harris, former temporary works overseer at the corporation Kendale Roberts, and former employee of a commercial bank Radcliffe McLean.
Approximately four of the more than 10 witnesses, since the trial started in June, disclosed to the court, under sworn testimony, that they encashed cheques of varying amounts drawn on the account of the corporation in their name, for work not done.
Yesterday, defence attorneys were still at odds with the prosecution about what documents should be allowed in evidence at this stage of the trial, which resumed on Monday after more than a month's break.
A disgruntled Godfrey, who is one of the senior attorneys in the case, said he believes the prosecutors were “skilfully” trying to include documents that the court had already ruled should not be admitted.
He said the “young counsels” from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions were “misguided”, and suggested that he would be willing to discontinue representation if more “civility” is not displayed.
“It pains me to [see] the regularity with which incivility is being displayed. I don't know if I can continue with that conduct...” Godfrey told presiding Judge Ann-Marie Grainger.
Three police officers from MOCA returned to the trial to give testimony yesterday.
Their questioning and cross-examination were not completed during previous appearances at the trial because of the ongoing issues between the prosecution and defence attorneys.
Yesterday, on two occasions, short breaks were taken to allow for the prosecution and defence attorneys to seek to again resolve the challenges.


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