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No need for statement from Ellington in bribery case — DPP

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 06, 2012    

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POLICE Commissioner Owen Ellington will not be required to give a statement in the high profile case involving Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz, businessman Bruce Bicknell and Senior Superintendent of Police James Forbes.

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn yesterday made it clear in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court that the prosecution had no interest in a testimony by the commissioner in the bribery trial as it would not help the crown's case.

On the last occasion when the matter was mentioned, acting senior director of public prosecutions, Dirk Harrison, told the court that the file was incomplete as the crown was awaiting a statement from Ellington.

But Llewellyn yesterday explained that before the ruling was made and after reviewing the statements in the matter, she had already concluded that the commissioner's statement would not have helped the crown's case. According to her, the brief reference made to the commissioner "was really stuff made of inadmissible evidence".

Llewellyn said she was away on the day that the case was last mentioned and did not get the time to brief Harrison, hence the misunderstanding. Nevertheless, she said the commissioner had already been notified of this in writing.

In the meantime, she also registered her displeasure with the media following the release of specific extracts from the statements and charged the media to ensure that the report are accurate. Additionally, she said an investigation is now underway to ascertain who released the statements to the media.

All three accused were charged last month after it was alleged that Bicknell tried to bribe a police sergeant when he was stopped for a traffic violation and the other two accused reportedly intervened in the matter to have the matter squashed.

Forbes and Bicknell are charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice while Vaz is charged under Section 14 of the Corruption Prevention Act.

Bicknell is also charged with bribery to which he answered yesterday for the first time and pleaded not guilty as a packed courtroom of officers and family members of the accused watched intensely.

The businessman's bail was also varied for him to travel to the United States between September 14 and 18, following an application by his lawyer, Peter Champagnie.

As a result, Magistrate Georgianna Fraser ruled that the stop order placed on his passport should be temporarily lifted until September 19 when Bicknell is to return his passport to the police.

All three accused who maintain their innocence, had their $250,000 bail extended and are to return to court on October 3.

According to the prosecution, Bicknell was stopped on the Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard in Kingston on April 9, 2012 after he was seen speeding. Bicknell then reportedly, presented his motor vehicle documents which is alleged to have contained $2,000, to Police Sergeant Jubert Llewellyn.

It is further alleged that after the cop pointed out that the money was among the documents, Bicknell told him that he could keep it, following which he was taken to the police station and booked on a charge of bribery.

It was reported that shortly after that, Vaz, who was information minister in the previous Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government, made several calls to the policemen and visited them. Vaz allegedly told the police sergeant that he should give Bicknell a chance, because he was not well.

In the aftermath, Forbes, 51, is said to have facilitated a meeting at his Oxford Road office with the two police officers and Bicknell in relation to the matter.

According to the prosecution, a document which was prepared for Bicknell to appear in court on the bribery matter on April 18 was given to Forbes by one of the police officers. As a result of the meeting, Bicknell did not turn up on the April court date.

Queen's Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown appears for Forbes while Queen's Counsel George Soutar represents Vaz.

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