E-mail from witness allowed into evidence despite objectionsTuesday, November 05, 2019
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — THE admitting into evidence in the Manchester Parish Court here of e-mail correspondence between a senior police investigator and a Crown witness, who is now overseas, has raised strong objections from defence counsel in the multimillion-dollar Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial.
The trial, which resumed yesterday after its sitting on October 24, is hearing evidence into allegations of a conspiracy among eight individuals to defraud the municipal corporation of more than $400 million.
A prosecution witness, who, when required for testimony in the case, was found to be overseas, has now communicated by e-mail, Detective Inspector Martin Morgan of the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) told the court. He said the witness, whose statement he had recorded after the alleged conspiracy was discovered in 2016, had responded to an e-mail he sent her on October 14, 2019, about two days later.
Presiding Judge Ann Marie Grainger, though allowing the e-mail correspondence into evidence against objections from the defence, agreed with defence counsel that aspects of the timing of the correspondence were “curious”. She, however, noted that the curious nature of how the e-mail came about was not sufficient to detract from its value as fresh evidence.
The defence team held to their objections and sought answers from the MOCA detective. Attorney Norman Godfrey said that he found it curious that on the day the inspector said he sent the correspondence was the same day he made a controversial visit to the home of the witness in Barbary Hall, St Elizabeth. Godfrey wanted the witness to state his reason for not informing the court that he had sent correspondence to the witness at the time (October 14), and even days later when he was still on the stand.
In his response, Inspector Morgan said while on the witness stand he only answered questions that were put to him.
Attorney Danielle Archer suggested to the inspector that when he first communicated with the witness by e-mail back in July 2019 — a month after the trial had begun — he did not inform her that she was required as a witness.
Inspector Morgan said he did not recall if he had informed the witness that she was expected to testify. However, on refreshing his memory from a document in court, he admitted that he had not, at the time, told the witness that she was to testify in court. He said, however, that there had been other communication between himself and the witness.
The judge is yet to deliver a ruling as to whether the statement of the absent witness will be admitted in evidence before the court.
Those on trial when the sitting resumes today are former municipal corporation senior staffers: Sanjay Elliott, deputy superintendent of road and works; David Harris, secretary manager and director of finance; and Kendale Roberts, works overseer. The other co-accused are Elliott's wife, Tasha Gay; his parents Edwardo and Myrtle Elliott; his employee Dwayne Sibblies; and a former employee of a commercial bank Radcliffe McLean.
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