All 7 accused in Manchester fraud trial say they're innocent

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All 7 accused in Manchester fraud trial say they're innocent

Thursday, February 20, 2020

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MANCHESTER, Jamaica – The remaining defendants in the Manchester Municipal Corporation multi-million fraud trial have elected to give unsworn statements from the dock proclaiming their innocence.

The Crown, which was scheduled to respond yesterday to the claims of innocence by the defendants, asked the court in Porus for more time to prepare their response.

Presiding judge Ann Marie Grainger acceded to the request and adjourned the matter for the hearing to resume in Mandeville at the James Warehouse Plaza on March 16, an alternative court venue since fire damaged the Manchester Parish courthouse last November.

Those who spoke from the dock yesterday were Sanja Elliott, former deputy superintendent of roads and works; his wife Tashagaye, who gave her occupation as sales and accounting administrator; Dwayne Sibblies, who told the court he was a construction worker of Hatfield, Manchester; and Kendale Roberts, who stated that he was a temporary works overseer at the municipal corporation from 2008 up to the time of his arrest in 2016.

On Tuesday, three of the accused in the alleged conspiracy to defraud the municipal corporation of some $400 million, chose to state their defence from the dock, where they would avoid interrogation from the Crown.

They are David Harris, former acting chief executive officer; Myrtle Elliott, mother of Sanja Elliott and wife of former co-accused Elwardo Elliott who was acquitted last month; and ex-commercial bank teller Radcliffe McLean.

The defence closed its case yesterday, after calling one character witness who testified on behalf of the temporary works overseer, Kendale Roberts.

The testimony of the witness, who said she was a retired infant school principal, provoked a sustained outburst of laughter in court before the police in charge was able to restore order.

She was being examined by junior defence counsel Samoi Campbell from the offices of attorney Peter Champagnie QC, who is representing Roberts.

Asked how she would assess the character of Roberts, the witness said she found only one fault, and it was that "he loves girls".

When the laughter subsided, Campbell said she had no further questions.

Jonathan Morrison

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