Crown, defence attorney joust over land ownership question

Crown, defence attorney joust over land ownership question

BY Alicia Sutherland
Observer staff reporter

Friday, September 13, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The prosecution in the Manchester Municipal Corporation multimillion-dollar fraud trial yesterday sought to make a connection between one of the accused and at least two of four properties for which the Financial Investigation Division (FID) requested certificates of title in 2017.

However, attorney Norman Godfrey, who is representing three of the accused including Sanja Elliott, a former deputy superintendent of the corporation's Road and Works Department objected to the prosecution seeking to make the link, saying that without a person's name on a title there is no evidence of proprietorship.

The court had heard testimony from an attorney and manager at the National Land Agency who listed four properties for which the FID requested the certificates.

One property is in St Mary, one is in Daley's Grove, Manchester, and two are in Hatfield, Manchester.

The properties were not registered in any of the defendants' names, however, the prosecution sought to establish a link between at least two of the properties and Elliott.

Elliott's family home, where he lives with his wife Tasha-Gay Goulbourne-Elliott and caretaker for the home Dwayne Sibblies who are both co-accused in the trial is at Daley's Grove.

The NLA representative could not say, however, if the property on which the family home is sited in Daley's Grove is the one for which information was given to the FID.

Responding to Godfrey's objection to the attempt to make a link between his client and the property, the prosecution said that during the investigation, receipts were found at Elliott's property outlining that payments were made in relation to one of the properties in Hatfield and a property at a Daley's Grove address.

It was argued by the prosecution that there may be “equity” ownership or interest.

As Godfrey raised his objections, presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger reminded him about the different charges in the indictment, to help him understand the position of the prosecution.

In the indictment, Elliott's parents Elwardo and Myrtle and his wife are charged in relation to facilitating the retention of criminal property because their names are jointly on properties or bank accounts with him.

Godfrey insisted that no inference should be drawn about ownership of the properties, based on receipts showing payments in relation to any of them, without a title also bearing the name of the person who made the payment.

The case started in 2016 after an allegation of misappropriation of over $400 million of public funds from the corporation.

Other accused on trial are former bank employee Radcliffe McLean, as well as former officials of the corporation, director of finance and acting secretary manager David Harris, and temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts.

A detective sergeant from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, and general manager of the Intelligence Investigation Enforcement Unit of Tax Administration Jamaica also gave testimony yesterday.

The detective gave testimony about a search carried out at the home and furniture shop on the property of Elwardo and Myrtle Elliott before they were charged in the case.

The TAJ representative has so far given evidence in relation to policies and procedures of his division and the department in general.

The trial started in June and more than 20 witnesses are still waiting to give testimony.

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