Crown refutes unsworn statements of Dwayne Sibblies, Tasha-gaye Goulbourne-Elliott, and Kendale Roberts

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Crown refutes unsworn statements of Dwayne Sibblies, Tasha-gaye Goulbourne-Elliott, and Kendale Roberts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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The $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial ended on Friday, May 15, 2020 with the conviction of main accused 35-year-old Sanja Elliott, the corporation's former deputy superintendent of road and works; his wife, Tasha-gaye Goulbourne-Elliott; two former employees of the corporation, David Harris, secretary/manager and acting chief executive officer and Kendale Roberts, temporary works overseer; as well as Dwayne Sibblies, a former employee of Sanja Elliott.

Those freed at the end of the trial were Sanja Elliott's mother, Myrtle Elliott, and former commercial bank teller Radcliff McLean.

In January, Sanja Elliott's father and husband of Myrtle Elliott, Elwardo, was the first to be freed.

The charges included conspiracy to defraud, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, several counts of possession of criminal property, facilitating the retention of criminal property, obtaining money by means of false pretences, causing money to be paid out by forged documents, an act of corruption, and uttering forged documents.

The Jamaica Observer continues its publication of the Crown's closing submission prepared by prosecutors Channa Ormsby, Patrice Hickson, and Jamelia Simpson, as well as Kamesha Campbell, attorney on fiat from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, and presented to the court in the case against the seven.

DWAYNE SIBBLIES

[43] Mr Sibblies has maintained a bare denial. The highlights being that he did not sign any document or form in the presence of Detective Sergeant Martin Morgan as he then was. He further stated that he never collected any money with the intention of giving anyone, or especially to Sanja Elliott.

Refuting the Dwayne Sibblies' Unsworn Statement

[44] The signing of the Jamaica Constabulary Force CR-12 Form was never challenged by the defendant, neither was it suggested to Sgt Martin Morgan that Mr Sibbles did not sign the CR-12. Additionally, it was never suggested to Miss Beverly East in cross-examination that the signature appearing on the JCR-12 Form is not that of Mr Sibblies. This is simply a demonstration of a man clutching at straws. The witnesses were present at court and the assertion of Mr Sibblies was never put to any of them. Mr Sibblies also does not present an alternate version as to what transpired at the bank when he attended with MM (initials used to protect identity of the witness). Neither did he give an account for the cheque stubs found in the chest of drawers in his room. What of his indication to Det Sgt Donovan Simms when asked about the cheque stubs found in his room “that he was going to change them for contractors”?

[45] Additionally, encashed MPC cheque in the form of exhibit 169 made payable to TM (initials used to protect identity of the witness) was endorsed by Mr Sibblies; however, Mr Merchant made clear that he did not authorise anyone to change any cheque on his behalf. This evidence remains unchallenged.

Like his co-conspirators, Mr Sibblies has been weighed in the balance (scales of justice) and has been found wanting.

TASHA-GAY GOULBOURNE-ELLIOTT

[46] The highlights of Mrs Goulbourne-Elliott's unsworn statement are that:

She works as a sales and accounting administrator and has been in that position for the past 2 years, and prior to that she studied at The University of the West Indies where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies. She admits to withdrawing monies between June and July 2016 from a joint account she holds with her husband at Jamaica National and conducting a transaction for a manager's cheque made payable to a third party, to complete a motor vehicle transaction, and that all additional sums withdrawn while her husband was in custody were used for legal fees.

Refuting Tashagay Goulbourne-Elliott's Unsworn Statement

[47] It is instructive that prior to the arrest of Mr Elliott, Mrs Goulbourne-Elliot had no dealings with the Jamaica National bank account from which the funds were withdrawn. It must be noted that after Mr Elliott's arrest and even after his release from custody, Mrs Elliott, between June 27, 2016 and July 7, 2016, withdrew well in excess of $4 million from this account.

[48] An examination of exhibit 246, which is the bank account held by Mrs Goulbourne-Elliott, reveals that this account was significantly depleted as at the date of the Restraint Order (September 2016); the balance in this account was $26. All traces of the stated depleted accounts came after the arrest of Mr Elliott on charges that concerned, among other things, the obtaining of sums stated therein.

[49] The Court should closely examine the believability of Mrs Goulbourne-Elliott, her version and within the surrounding circumstances. If the sums were in fact to pay legal fees, why would the withdrawals be in the manner in which they were done? It is of great import to remind the court that these were cash transactions done in quick succession; namely, withdrawals over the period June 27, 2016 in the amounts of $500,000; June 28 - $700,000; June 29 - $500,000 and $2 million via manger's cheque allegedly for motor vehicle purchase; and on July 7, 2016 - $500,000 cash.

[50] In the age of the Proceeds of Crime Act, we ask that Your Honour take judicial note of the mode in which large sums of attorney's fees are allegedly paid. We submit that these sums were not in relation to legal fees but were withdrawn to facilitate the retention of same before the sums were restrained.

[51] In relation to the $2 million withdrawn on June 29, 2016, purportedly for motor vehicle purchase, there is not even a scintilla of evidence to support any purchase of a motor vehicle. Ms Keresha King-Williams from the National Motor Vehicle Registry gave evidence that on September 27, 2019 a request was made of her which caused a search to be done in relation to all motor vehicles owned by Sanja Elliott. She searched the physical and electronic records and found no record of any motor vehicle that Mr Elliott owned after the date of his arrest. Similarly, there was no record of any vehicle having been transferred from Glenford Rickets to Sanja Elliott. In relation to vehicles owned by Sanja Elliott, the certificates of title are before the court as well as the import and transfer documents.

Knowledge

[52] Mrs Goulbourne-Elliott is not a nave housewife who is completely ignorant and was simply taken advantage of. Quite to the contrary, according to her, she is the holder of a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies and is a sales and accounting administrator. These very factors signify that she knew that her conduct was unlawful and also that she knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the sums she was withdrawing were criminal property. She knew that she was assisting Mr Elliott, her husband, to retain criminal property. Her conduct and the manner in which she did same testify against her.

[53] The stated defence of Mrs Goulbourne-Elliott has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. As such, the Court is required to return to the Crown's case to make your decision.

KENDALE ROBERTS

[54] In summary Mr Kendale Roberts said that:

He is a temporary works overseer at the Manchester Parish Council since 2008 and that there has never been an issue or complaint concerning how he carried out his functions as works overseer, nor have there been complaints about his integrity. He recounts that between 2014 and 2016 there were other works overseers at the council, namely Messrs Balford Bascoe, Jermaine Johnson and Andrew Logan. There were also other officers above the position of works overseer who had the same duties as the overseer, only difference is that they have additional duties.

[55] He stated that oftentimes he was asked to go on site and meet contractors to identify the scope of the work but this is not always the case, as oftentimes he would only come in contact with labourers or the persons who are going to do the actual work. When the work is completed, the overseer goes back to the location and checks to see that the work is satisfactorily done and takes photographs of the finished work. There is a practice that was encouraged and still encouraged at the council where officers verify work for each other. This is because most times the officer who gives out the work is not the officer who checks or verifies the work.

[56] He has never signed any invoice for work that was not done. As it relates to water invoices, the driver of the water truck who delivers the water to an area would log in the water delivery log book the area and time when the water was delivered. As works overseer, upon receiving the water invoice he would check the log book to see if the area stated on the invoice is in that book for that specific time.

Refuting Kendale Roberts' Unsworn Statement

[57] We submit that the fact of there being other works overseers is not a point in dispute. What the Crown has asserted is that, in relation to the invoices signed by Mr Roberts verifying that the work was in fact done, that this was a part of the conspiracy to defraud the council. This is so because the witnesses as to fact, the alleged contractors, all testified that in relation to invoices signed by Mr Roberts no work was in fact done, as they commissioned no work to be done but collected the money and gave it to Mr Elliott.

Whether or not Mr Roberts went on the site to meet the contractors or to verify that the work was satisfactorily done is immaterial. This for the reason that invoices he verified in the names AF, TM, MM, NH, TB, and TW (initials used to protect identity of the witnesses), neither labourers nor contractors, could have been present as no work was commissioned. Therefore, he had no basis to sign any such invoices.

[58] Mr Roberts claimed that it was encouraged for officers to verify the work of other officers, however, this was never put as a suggestion to any of the witnesses that gave evidence from the parish council. Additionally, even if that were so, it would not take away from the fact that no work was done. There was no scoping of work with the so-called contractors in question; no work was commissioned and no work was in fact checked. What was commissioned was the production and signing of invoices that caused the generation of Manchester Parish Council payment vouchers and cheques in favour of purported contractors who did no work. Even if such a system was in place, the Crown is saying that with all the checks and balances, taking into account the evidence of the alleged contractors, it would be more than apparent that no work was done. Mr Roberts signed the invoices not because work was done, but as part of the conspiracy with Messrs Sanja Elliott and David Harris to defraud the council. The WhatsApp messages between handler “Kendale” and Sanja Elliott evidence same.

[59] Similarly, Mr Roberts signing invoices for the delivery of portable water makes the conspiracy more apparent. It is the Crown's case that there was nothing contained in any water delivery log book that Mr Roberts could have checked as the witnesses as to fact are clear. They did not commission the delivery of any water, they did not own water trucks, and as such there would be nothing contained in the water delivery log book to be checked. We ask the court to find that Mr Roberts is not being truthful.

[60] Mr Roberts's witness as to character did not assist him either, stating clearly that “I am not around him 24/7 to know what he does.”

The stated defence of Mr Roberts has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. If the court finds this to be so, it is required to return to the Crown's case to make your decision.

TOMORROW: The Crown insists it has presented an overwhelming amount of cogent and coherent circumstantial and direct evidence.


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