Yawns, dozing mark no-case submissions in ATL fraud case
ALTHOUGH providing the court with a 16-page no-case submission in writing in the Appliance Traders pension fraud trial, Queen's Counsel Frank Phipps spent most of yesterday going back over the submission when the case resumed.
Extensive yawns and periodic dozing off, which afflicted even some defence lawyers and defendants seated in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court, Half-Way-Tree, marked the painful tedium as Phipps spoke, sometimes barely audible in the otherwise silent courtroom.
Persons in the court appeared relieved when Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams offered to take the lunch break about an hour early.
Before the orderly pronounced the adjournment, the magistrate reminded: "Please note I have read all the submissions in depth and all the cases. I spent my weekend doing that."
Phipps was the first of three lawyers who made no-case submissions, saying that their clients -- three former ATL executives -- had no case to answer, having been charged with conspiracy to deceive by forgery of letters purporting to show that consent was given for distribution of $1.7 billion in pension fund surplus.
The three are Patrick Lynch, former chairman of the ATL Group Pension Scheme; Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund; and Dr Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's holding company.
The prosecution has contended that the three conspired to forge four letters back-dated to 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008, and signed by Dr Pyne who had left the company seven months earlier, with Lynch as the mastermind, after Stewart found out in December 2010 that consent was not given for the distribution.
United States-based forensic document analyst Eric Speckin testified previously that the letters appeared to have been signed at the same time.
Phipps, who represents Lynch, described the prosecution's case as a "forensic fable presented by the prosecution that is unsubstantiated by the evidence".
Phipps said if the letters were prepared in 2010, as the prosecution had suggested, then this couldn't make out a case of conspiracy for the other years as the 2008 distribution was the one being complained of by Stewart.
He said the conspiracy charges were unsupported by the evidence and that his client shouldn't be called upon to answer to them.
For his part, Queen's Counsel KD Knight, who is representing Pyne, adopted Phipps' submission, as well as that of Deborah Martin, which he said he had read, and asked rhetorically if the prosecution's case made any sense.
Knight insisted that apart from being accused of signing the letters in question, Pyne had nothing to do with any of the issues involved in the case, as he had left the company seven months earlier.
The way was cleared for the defence to start its no-case submissions when the prosecution -- comprising RNA Henriques, Garth McBean, Raymond Clough, Hugh Wildman and Miguel Williams -- formally closed its case.