Judge rules against admitting accused's statement into evidence

Judge rules against admitting accused's statement into evidence

By Jonathan Morrison
Observer writer

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Parish Judge Ann Marie Grainger ruled yesterday that a statement given to the police by an accused in the Manchester Municipal Corporation $400 million fraud trial should not be admitted into evidence.

The defence had objected to the statement being admitted, contending that it could prove prejudicial to the accused, David Harris, the corporation's former director of finance, who may not have known that he would be a suspect in the case when he gave the statement.

The judge, who gave her ruling in the Manchester Parish Court, Mandeville where Harris is among eight people facing corruption charges said that there are reasons to believe that Harris could have been considered a suspect in June 2016, when he gave the statement, despite the fact that he was arrested about a year later.

She said that a police search at Harris's home on June 24, 2016 during which two cellphones were seized was sufficient to uphold submissions by his attorney, Danielle Archer, that her client could not be considered otherwise (than a suspect) after the search and seizure.

Detective Inspector Martin Morgan of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, who was in the witness stand for a fourth day, had given evidence last Friday that Harris was not a suspect in the multimillion-dollar fraud case when he recorded a statement from him some time in 2016. He said the statement he took from Harris had only to do with seeking information from him in his then capacity as secretary manager of the former Manchester Parish Council (now Municipal Corporation) as to “how the system worked” at the council.

In making her ruling, Judge Grainger said if the statement only had to do with procedures at the municipality, then the question arises as to why it was so important for the prosecution to have the statement read into evidence. She said further that along with the citing of authority in the matter, the court had a discretion in coming to a decision and concluded: “I am not exercising my discretion in favour of the Crown.”

Joint investigative and law enforcement agencies began arrests in 2016 after probing an alleged conspiracy to defraud the municipal corporation of $400 million of public funds. In addition to Harris, those now answering multiple charges relating to the alleged conspiracy are former senior personnel of the municipality, Sanja Elliott, deputy superintendent of road and works; Kendale Roberts, works overseer; Elliott's wife and parents, Tasha Gay Elliott and Edwardo and Myrtle Elliott; Sanja Elliott's employee Dwayne Sibblies; and bank employee Radcliffe McLean.

The trial continues today with Detective Inspector Morgan scheduled to face cross-examination from the defence.

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