Knight spends day attacking 'Butch' Stewart in ATL fraud trial

Wednesday, May 14, 2014    

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KEITH Desmond 'KD' Knight, QC, spent most of yesterday hammering away at Appliance Traders (ATL) boss Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, saying he was responsible for the three former company executives being in court on pension fraud charges.

Knight, at the end of his no-case submission, urged the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court to dismiss the charges against his client, arguing that the prosecution had not made out a credible, reasonable case against him.

The veteran attorney is representing Dr Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew Limited -- Stewart's holding company -- who is accused of signing four letters purporting to show that consent was given for the distribution of $1.7 billion in ATL Pension Scheme surplus.

Pyne had separated from the company seven months before he allegedly conspired with Patrick Lynch, former chairman of the pension fund and the alleged mastermind, and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund, to forge the letters backdated to 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2008, after Stewart found out in 2010 that consent for the distribution from which they benefited had not been given.

American forensic document analyst Erich Speckin testified previously that the letters appeared to have been signed at the same time while stacked one on top of each other. The signature from the 1998 letter was showing on the 2005 letter, which should not then have been in existence.

Stewart was angered by the distribution without his consent, saying at the time that he could have invested the money and given more benefits to the members who had worked with him to build his successful group of companies.

Knight, who was on his second day of submission, quoted Johnny Cochran -- the late defence attorney in the OJ Simpson murder trial in the United States -- as he pleaded Pyne's innocence.

"This is OJ Simpson all over again," Knight said to Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams in reference to the former US football star, as he paused for effect. "If it does not fit, you must acquit."

Knight said Speckin's evidence did not provide any scientific proof that an attempt was made to age the letters as the prosecution had contended, and that the evidence that the letters appeared to be stacked and signed couldn't be an example of dishonesty or fraud.

Knight ended his submissions close to the time for adjournment, making way for Deborah Martin to argue on behalf of her client, Barber.

Martin adopted the submissions of Queen's Counsel Frank Phipps and Knight, and said that there was no evidence that the letters were made and signed overnight. "Yet there is repeated assertion by the prosecution in their submission that the document was created between 15 and 16 December 2010," Martin said.

The attorney is to continue her submissions today.





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