Mystery payments

Mystery payments

Witness at Manchester fraud trial says he's not aware of vouchers bearing his name

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, September 12, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A witness who took the stand at the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial yesterday denied knowledge of two roadwork projects for which payment vouchers bearing his name exist, and told the court that the signatures on the vouchers were not his.

However, he admitted doing carpentry work for the local government body for which he was remunerated.

The middle-aged man testified that his services had been retained by the corporation to repair doors, make and install door jambs at the Manchester Infirmary.

He said he had done work at the infirmary more than once but it was only on one occasion that he had been assigned to do the job by one of the accused Sanja Elliott, former deputy superintendent of the Road and Works Department at the corporation.

According to the witness, he was paid by cheques for all the jobs he completed for the corporation.

He told the court that he had also done work on Elliott's home at Daley's Grove, Knockpatrick, but on that occasion had been employed by someone who was working for Elliott and the person had paid him in cash.

When lead prosecutor Channa Ormbsy questioned him about two payment vouchers bearing his name, for water delivery and road maintenance done for the corporation, the witness said that he was not aware of those projects.

She made several attempts to determine if he was actually paid for the work outlined on the payment vouchers.

“I don't do road work,” he said, looking at the voucher for the road maintenance work, while the prosecutor probed.

He said it was not his signature on the documents.

Defence counsel cautioned the prosecutor about her line of questioning, arguing that it could prejudice the accused.

Elliott is one of eight accused on trial for the alleged misappropriation of funds from the corporation. All accused are facing charges including forgery, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining money under false pretence.

Ormbsy strongly defended her line of questioning to presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger, assuring her that the questions she was asking were relevant to building her case.

The witness told the court that he could not recall specifics, such as the exact periods that he had done work for the corporation and how much he had been paid in each instance.

Grainger, in providing guidance to the prosecutor, said there will be situations in which she does not get the desired responses but will still have to move on.

The carpenter, who said he is a “far relative” of Elliott, ended his testimony yesterday.

A police officer from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency was recalled to the stand.

However, he is scheduled to return to continue his testimony tomorrow.

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