DPP wants independent digital forensic examiner

Manchester MC fraud trial resumes September

Staff reporter

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — For the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud case, thousands of documents which could be used as evidence were taken in, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn on Friday revealed.

This appears to be at the heart of an ongoing contention between the prosecution and defence attorneys.

To that extent, Llewellyn has suggested the intervention of an independent digital forensic examiner to see to it that both parties understand each other, in order that all concerned can have the assurance that the trial is transparent.

From the trial began last month, issues have arisen with attorneys claiming that all the documents admitted as evidence that the prosecution should disclose to them are not provided.

As the frustrations mounted, last week the non-disclosure or late disclosure of evidence resulted in the trial being adjourned early on one occasion, witness testimony ending abruptly, and the postponement of the continuation of testimony and cross-examination of three representatives from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

A witness from the Integrity Commission (formerly Office of the Contractor General) had to be recalled because of the challenges and it is likely that others who have given testimony before may have to return.

On Friday morning, members of the defence were presented with more documents from the prosecution that they should have received before.

However, by the end of the day two members of the defence team were notifying presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger that a CD given among the documents was not showing all the information that should be on it.

Grainger stated that although it is within procedure for the prosecution to disclose evidence on an ongoing basis, the haphazard matter in which it being done was unduly delaying the trial.

She reiterated the need for prosecution and defence to have an open discussion about the issues and seek to reach a resolution.

“I feel like I am a broken record. I really don't like to feel like a broken record,” said Grainger.

Llewellyn, who was on Friday visiting the trial held at the Manchester Parish Court for the third time since it began, mentioned that computer glitches have created some of the challenges for the Crown counsels working on the case.

She agreed that there was a need for a thorough disclosure of evidence.

Though on Friday the trial went on a break until September 9, Grainger suggested that an effort be made to resolve the issues by the end of the month.

Grainger indicated to the DPP that she was not in agreement with the assignment of the examiner.

If the person is paid through the Ministry of Justice, she said, it could be argued that the person would not truly be acting independently.

Delford Morgan, one of the defence attorneys in the case, said the constant issues may be presenting stress and despair for the accused.

The fraud trial is for the alleged misappropriation of over $400 million of public funds from the Manchester Municipal Corporation.

Among the accused persons is former employee Radcliffe McLean of a major commercial bank, where several fraudulent cheques were reportedly cashed.

A manager of the bank gave testimony on Friday about the bank's policies and procedures.

She will be returning in September to continue.

Other accused on trial are former deputy superintendent of Road and Works at the corporation, Sanja Elliott, his wife Tasha-Gay Goulbourne-Elliott, his parents Myrtle and Elwardo, former caretaker for his home Dwayne Sibblies, former temporary works overseer at the corporation Kendale Roberts and former director of finance David Harris, who has also served as acting secretary manager.

They are facing charges including forgery, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining money under false pretence.

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