Defence lawyers brace for judge's ruling in Manchester fraud trial

Defence lawyers brace for judge's ruling in Manchester fraud trial

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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PORUS, Manchester — The eight accused in the Manchester Municipal Corporation multimillion-dollar fraud trial are to hear tomorrow from presiding judge Ann Marie Grainger if they have a case to answer when the hearing resumes at the Porus courthouse.

At the end of the Crown's submission on January 17, Judge Grainger, on the adjournment, said she would give her ruling on January 30 as to whether the eight will answer to conspiracy charges.

The court last heard from the Crown that each of the eight accused had a case to answer as they knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct related to an alleged conspiracy to defraud the then Manchester Parish Council of funds amounting to $400 million, over a three-year period, between 2013 and 2016.

The defence had made an unsuccessful bid in early January to bring a halt to the trial on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct by the Crown, alleging witness tampering. They submitted to the court that in light of “glaring misconduct on the part of the more judicial time should be consumed in the matter.

Rattled by the defence's allegations of the indictable offence of witness interference, the Crown stoutly refuted counsel's claims as “unfounded”, stating that the only contact they had with the witness in question was to ask him to “speak the truth” when he testifies in court.

The five-member defence team, in their preparation now for the eventuality of a ruling against their clients, will be bracing themselves to take on the case history references and other legal authority that the Crown had relied on in its submissions.

Those before the court in the more than seven-month-long trial are: former municipal corporation employees Sanja Elliott, deputy superintendent of road and works; David Harris, director of finance; and Kendale Roberts, works overseer; Elliott's wife, Tashagaye, his parents, Elwardo and Myrtle; his employee Dwyane Sibblies; and former commercial bank teller Radcliffe McLean.

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